Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at UNSC Briefing on Yemen
Statement18 February 2021
Thank you very much indeed Madam President, and I want to say a special thank you to our Special Envoy Griffiths and to Under-Secretary General Lowcock for their updates today. Thanks also to Ambassador King as Chair of the 2140 Sanctions Committee for her briefing.
Ireland supports the work of the Committee and regards the sanctions regime as an important tool of the Council to contribute to a solution of the conflict and to restore peace, security and stability in Yemen.
To say that that the desperate humanitarian emergency in Yemen demands urgent action, is now almost an embarrassing understatement. The real tragedy however is compounded by knowing that humanitarian solutions alone cannot bring an end this crisis. Martin, we fully support your valiant and repeated efforts to broker a political solution.
After six long years of conflict, we call on all parties to seize this opportunity for meaningful political progress. We repeat our call to do that. For a solution to this crisis to be sustainable, we know that it must be inclusive as well as Yemeni-led and Yemeni-owned.
Yemeni-owned also means Yemeni-women owned. We believe that structural inequalities holding back Yemeni women are also holding back the cause of peace. As Co-Chair of the WPS group, we look forward to having Special Envoy Griffiths brief the Informal Experts in the coming weeks.
As we have just heard,violent and hostile acts regrettably continue- as Martin said at the beginning- to sharply escalate since we last discussed this at the Council. Ireland is particularly concerned by reports of renewed attacks in Marib, which are inflicting further civilian suffering, and obviously seriously threatening prospects for peace.
We also condemn in the strongest terms repeated cross-border attacks against the Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia. Such attacks are unacceptable, and we call for their cessation immediately.
To sum it up, and there is no other way to put it, the violence in Yemen must end. Ireland urges all parties on the ground to engage in an immediate nationwide ceasefire. The Secretary General’s repeated calls, the endless rounds of talks and consultations aimed at getting the sides to enter into political talks are in themselves aimed at one thing- giving the long-suffering Yemeni people relief from conflict and setting them on a path to a peaceful future. As Martin himself has said this morning, we need a decision now.
As Mark clearly reminded us this morning, we are running out of time. Yemen has the most unwanted, I would say dubious, distinction of being home to the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. As a Council we simply cannot lose more time in acting to address the devastating consequences of this conflict. The scale and nature of which are shameful.
We have heard again today about the urgent need to address the imminent threat of widespread famine. The facts are clear, many have repeated them here, and they are worth repeating again. 16 million people facing food insecurity. 2 million children under five have only ever known conflict and will face malnutrition this year with a risk of death unless they get urgent treatment. I think these figures are actually difficult to comprehend, but in plain terms, we know that 50,000 people right now, as we speak, are facing death by starvation, and a great many more are in danger of the same fate.
As Mark has also set out for us again this morning, the crisis in Yemen has a backdrop of a deeply damaged economy, with exchange rate fluctuation and other factors that drive up the cost of basic food in an already stressed environment.
We call on all parties to take action to halt the catastrophe unfolding before our eyes. I believe we all share a moral as well as political responsibility to act.
We must all support the efforts of humanitarian agencies with adequate funding, and we look towards the pledging event on 1 March in the hope that all donors will be generous.
Today and once again, we insist that humanitarian agencies be enabled to carry out their work in a safe, secure and unimpeded way. The decision of the United States to revoke the Houthi Foreign Terrorist Organisation designation on humanitarian grounds is welcome. We continue to call on all parties to the conflict to respect international human rights and humanitarian law and enable safe, unimpeded access for humanitarian organisations carrying out lifesaving work. Restrictions and impediments to the work of humanitarian organisations are unacceptable.
Before concluding, I also want to raise the untenable situation regarding the Safer tanker. Mark, you called it a clear and present danger to everyone in Yemen. We know that without proper maintenance and repair the tanker poses that danger with catastrophic environmental and humanitarian consequences. Surely given all we have heard today regarding the suffering of the Yemeni people, this is a problem we can work to fix. We call on all parties, and in particular, the Houthis to rapidly conclude discussions, issue all required clearances, and to eliminate all further delays so that the urgently required assessment and repairs can take place. Given the potentially catastrophic consequences of inaction, we believe there can be no excuse for obstruction or delay.
Thank you Madam President.