Ambassador Kelly Craft
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
April 16, 2020
Thank you very much. Thank you, Martin, and as always it’s great to see you, Mark, and thanks for your briefings and for your ongoing dedicated work of your teams, especially in these challenging times. We were pleased to see the parties’ statements in support of the UN Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire and countering the spread of COVID-19. We welcome the Saudi government’s unilateral ceasefire, as well as the response from the Government of Yemen joining this ceasefire. We urge the Houthis to make the same commitment.
Unfortunately, as is too often the case in Yemen, many areas of concern remain. In Marib, internally displaced people and host communities remain equally vulnerable to continued ground fighting and the very real danger of a COVID-19 outbreak. The Houthis’ ballistic missile attacks on Riyadh are unacceptable and directly contravene their stated support for the UN’s global ceasefire initiative. All parties must re-commit to de-escalation followed by resumption of talks toward a political solution, as further military escalation will only hinder access of healthcare workers and access by healthcare by Yemenis. Special Envoy Griffiths and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have been working diligently to convene a crisis meeting to address the fighting. We urge the Yemeni parties to accept the invitation and attend this meeting.
Additionally, we urge all member states to fully comply with the arms embargo established in Resolution 2216, and note our concern at ongoing reports of Iranian interference in the conflict, including through the provision of lethal aid to the Houthis. Once again we are forced to call out Houthi obstruction of humanitarian operations. The Houthis’ deliberate interference with aid delivery limits the ability of the UN and other humanitarian organizations to help the most vulnerable Yemenis. Such obstructions are unacceptable, and have already caused significant delays to existing aid programs. They have also forced the U.S. Government to partially suspend existing assistance awards in Yemen’s north, for all but the most critical life-saving treatments, and threaten international efforts to provide assistance crucial to preventing the spread of COVID-19 in Yemen.
The Trump administration restates its call to the Houthis to allow UN inspection and maintenance of the Safer oil tanker. UN officials must have immediate access to inspect and maintain the Safer in order to prevent an environmental catastrophe that would have far-reaching effects in Yemen and around the Red Sea. The Houthis must stop blocking a solution to this problem, and permit required assessments and repairs. We have all endorsed the Secretary-General’s call for the cessation of hostilities in Yemen, and the United States emphasizes the need to concentrate efforts on mitigating the spread of COVID-19, ensuring principled humanitarian assistance operations, and the unhindered access of healthcare workers and medical assistance. Now is the time to fight COVID-19 pandemic, not each other.