Ambassador Kelly Craft
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
May 14, 2020
Thank you, thank you, Sven. And, you know, a really special thanks to Martin. Martin, I’ve been keeping up with all of your meticulous work through the Secretary-General and I find your cautious optimism is very contagious and we’ve got people rooting for you back here, especially from Kentucky as I know that this is really an important time and a really, very delicate issue in Yemen. So, just know that you have people supporting you and that we know, first-hand, the many, many countless hours that you’re putting forward for peace and security in Yemen. Mark, I haven’t seen Mark, I don’t see him on the screen, but thank you so much for your briefing. And, obviously, the teams, both of your teams, for all the work that they’ve done for peace and security in Yemen.
The United States stands with the Yemeni people, who have suffered every imaginable hardship, and who are simply trying to survive in the midst of conflict, food insecurity, devastating floods, and now the spread of COVID-19.
In light of these hardships, we welcome the Saudi-led Coalition’s extension of its unilateral ceasefire in support of the UN peace process and efforts to fight COVID-19. The U.S. strongly urges the Houthis to join the Government of Yemen in halting offensive operations in support of this ceasefire. This is so that all parties may focus their efforts on countering COVID-19 and working towards a lasting political resolution of the conflict.
The Houthis must re-commit to de-escalation followed by resumption of talks directed toward a political solution. We urge the parties to the conflict to continue to review and provide meaningful feedback on the Special Envoy’s draft proposals, which represent the spirit of consensus required to move toward a lasting political settlement.
We note with concern the recent declaration from the Southern Transitional Council of its so-called “self-administration” of Yemen’s southern governorates. Such actions from the STC will only distract from UN-led efforts to secure a nation-wide ceasefire and a political solution. We are also concerned by reports of increasing STC interference in Central Bank of Yemen operations. All parties must continue to respect the government institutions underpinning Yemen’s political and economic stability. We call on the STC and the Republic of Yemen Government to re-engage in the political process provided under the Riyadh Agreement.
Additionally, we remain concerned about limitations on humanitarian access in Houthi controlled areas. The Houthis’ deliberate interference with assistance operations – interference that is in flagrant defiance of humanitarian principles – continues to limit the ability of the UN and other humanitarian organizations to provide for the needs of the most vulnerable Yemenis.
We acknowledge some steps taken by the Houthis in certain areas. These include the decision to lift the two percent levy on aid projects, sign NGO agreements, and approve key independent needs assessments. But further progress is critical, especially on biometric registration and ensuring humanitarian staff can implement and monitor their programs. The United States also strongly encourages the Houthis to be fully transparent and report COVID-19 cases, in order to facilitate an effective response for the Yemeni people.
As we have said on previous occasions, the U.S. again calls on the Houthis to allow UN inspection and maintenance of the Safer oil tanker. UN officials must have immediate access to the Safer in order to prevent an environmental catastrophe, which would have far-reaching effects in Yemen and around the Red Sea. We are grateful to Martin Griffiths for continuing to raise this issue in Sana’a. The Houthis must stop blocking a solution to this problem, and permit required assessments and repairs.
Finally, we urge all member states to fully comply with the targeted arms embargo established in the UN Security Council Resolution 2216, and we note our continued concern at ongoing reports of Iranian interference in the conflict – including through the provision of lethal aid to the Houthis.