Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Situation in Yemen

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
Acting Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
January 9, 2019

Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you, Under-Secretary-General Lowcock, Special Envoy Griffiths, for your briefings and for your excellent work to achieve and implement the agreements reached in Stockholm. We also deeply appreciate General Cammaert’s work establishing the Redeployment Coordination Committee in Hudaydah, which is an essential element in implementing the Stockholm Agreement, as well as the work of Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande, to amplify the message of the enormous and critical humanitarian needs of Yemenis on the ground. 

The Secretary-General’s January 4 report on the status of implementation of Resolution 2451 notes the important progress made to date, particularly the swift establishment of an RCC, demonstrating the parties’ desire to turn the page. It is significant that the Republic of Yemen Government and Houthi representatives have shown a willingness to forge a political settlement. And we stand by the Secretary-General’s assertion that we should not take for granted this progress in trying to bring to a conclusion to years of war, suffering, and hunger. 

But if we share the Secretary-General’s measured optimism, we also share his concerns regarding the complexity of the task ahead. In particular, despite these promising efforts, the situation on the ground for millions of Yemenis remains dire. According to a report from the Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs issued just Monday, the prices of basic commodities – including food and petrol – are up 137 percent and 261 percent, respectively. There has been only one containerized shipment to Hudaydah since 2017, as we heard this morning. And all parties need to lift the wide range of bureaucratic obstacles that stand in the way of delivering assistance.  

Mr. President, we are concerned by the World Food Program’s reports of Houthi food aid diversion and call for a thorough investigation to identify and hold accountable those responsible for shameful theft. Interference with UN relief efforts can only prolong the misery of Yemeni citizens, and we call on all sides to ensure that food aid gets to those who need it most. We also call on all parties to honor fully the ceasefire in Hudaydah and to ensure that redeployments agreed to in Sweden proceed in due course. Credible redeployments are critical to sustaining peace in Hudaydah and restoring a functioning port to the country.

Mr. President, we – and indeed, this Council – have long held that only a political solution will lead to a sustained and stable peace that the people of Yemen deserve, and in this regard the United States will continue to strongly support the efforts of Special Envoy Griffiths. Finally, we express our appreciation to the United Kingdom for its leadership in crafting the resolutions needed to affirm this Council’s support for the Agreement reached in Sweden and now to establish a UN Mission in Hudaydah. The United States will do its utmost to ensure that all UN efforts, including those to oversee the ceasefire, are successful and contribute to a peaceful solution so long overdue.

Thank you.