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

Ambassador Kelly Craft
Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
March 12, 2020


I would also like to pay tribute to my friend, Ambassador Pierce, for her devoted service to the council and thank her wisdom and partnership. And while I’m going to miss you being seated to my right, I can personally tell you that the Trump administration is most excited to have you as our ally in Washington, and I’m looking forward to seeing you frequently on my trips to DC, so thank you for your service.

Thank you, Martin, and Acting Assistant Secretary General, for your briefings. Regrettably, little has changed in Yemen since we met last month. Violence has escalated, including the Houthis taking the city of Hazm in Jawf governorate. We are hopeful that the parties will re-commit to de-escalation followed by a resumption of talks toward a political solution. We urge full implementation of the Riyadh Agreement. When the UN is ready to convene talks, the parties must be prepared to field strong delegations and represent all Yemenis, including women.

Once again, we are forced to bring specific attention to Houthi obstruction of humanitarian operations, which has become the unacceptable refrain of these briefings. We reiterate our message from last month to the Houthis: time is running out. Please do not make it impossible for us to continue providing aid in the areas where you are present. Aid obstructions are unacceptable and have already caused many aid programs to shut down.

We therefore urge the Houthis to take immediate steps to meet all the minimum conditions for principled humanitarian operations before the end of this month. These include lifting access restrictions; allowing unimpeded assessments and oversight of projects; approving backlogged agreements with the NGOs; implementing biometric registration; and maintaining the elimination of so-called “taxes” on aid projects. While there have been faint glimmers of progress in negotiations with the Houthis, statements and agreements alone will not save lives. We expect the Houthis to demonstrate verifiable progress and a commitment to ensuring the minimum operating conditions for the principled delivery of assistance. In the absence of credible Houthi actions to address our concerns, the United States will suspend U.S. assistance to Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen at the end of March, except for certain critical lifesaving programs.

We are actively engaging with other donors on this effort to create a permissive environment for the delivery of humanitarian assistance -consistent with the principle of independence – in the world’s largest humanitarian emergency. We continue to look to OCHA to play a strong role in coordinating with UN agencies and donors, as discussed in Brussels. We recognize, however, that each agency must make its own decision regarding the suspension or reduction of assistance. The United States welcomes the Security Council adoption of resolution 2511 on February 25, renewing the Yemen sanctions regime, and we reiterate the obligation of all Member States to implement the sanctions in full.

Finally, the United States once again urges the Houthis to allow the UN inspection and maintenance of the Safer oil tanker. In adopting resolution 2511, the Security Council emphasized the environmental risks and the need, without delay, for access of UN officials to inspect and maintain the tanker. We are grateful to the Special Envoy for continuing to raise this issue in Sana’a, and we believe an arrangement can be worked out for the disposition of the oil. The Houthis must stop using the Safer as a bargaining chip.

Thank you.