Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Yemen

Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
February 15, 2022


Thank you, Mister President. Thank you to our briefers, Special Envoy Grundberg and Under Secretary-General Griffiths, for their continued efforts, and to our Albanian colleague, Ambassador Hoxha, for his report on the 2140 Committee. We also welcome General Beary as he takes up his duties as the head of UNMHA.

The United States joins others in strongly condemning the Houthi attacks striking civilian sites across the region over the last month, including multiple attacks on both the UAE and Saudi Arabia that killed innocent civilians. We stand united with our Saudi and Emirati partners and remain committed to helping them defend their territory and their residents, which include tens of thousands of U.S. citizens.

We are also concerned about the tragic loss of life following a Saudi-led Coalition airstrike that hit a migrant detention center in Sa’ada in January, killing nearly 100 civilians.

Despite this Council’s condemnation, the Houthis continue to detain our current and former Yemeni local staff, some of whom are now UN employees, and to control the compound formerly used by our embassy. Further, the Houthis have barred detained U.S. staff from any contact with their families. We call for the immediate release of our Yemeni employees unharmed and for the Houthis to cease all threats against our employees and their families.

The inescapable conclusion is that we have failed to demonstrate to the Houthis there are consequences for this behavior. The Houthis have made it clear they seek to disrupt regional security, target civilian sites, and disrupt maritime commerce. We must do more to counter such attacks, with a unified voice, including by imposing tangible costs.

The Houthis’ Marib offensive, including repeated attacks that have killed and wounded civilians, has represented the most significant impediment to peace efforts. It is clear this Houthi military offensive will only bring further suffering and worsen the humanitarian plight of the Yemeni people. It must end. We are witnessing a dangerous escalation in Yemen, and we call on all parties to de-escalate; to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law – including those related to protection of all civilians; and to participate fully in an inclusive UN-led peace process.

Special Envoy Grundberg, we applaud your attempts to develop a framework for peace and we welcome your consultations with the parties and civil society on this framework. A return to talks is urgent, and we look to the UN to provide the parties with a path forward to peace on an urgent basis. Further, we welcome the Special Envoy’s engagement with the parties on critically needed de-escalation proposals.

We call on all parties to facilitate the Special Envoy’s timely and meaningful engagement with all relevant Yemeni groups and parties, including women, civil society leaders, and other marginalized groups. The Council should support the Special Envoy’s efforts and press the parties for full cooperation. We are concerned the Houthis are refusing to receive the Special Envoy in Sana’a. We should all be clear – imposing preconditions on meetings with the Special Envoy is completely unacceptable.

An inclusive Yemeni-led political solution is the only way out of this tragic war and its resultant humanitarian catastrophe. Accountability for human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law are also key to ensuring a durable peace for all Yemenis.

As we are all aware, over 20 million Yemenis need urgent humanitarian assistance. We discuss this conflict as 16 million Yemenis — including seven million children — go without life’s basic necessities. We call on donors to provide urgently needed funding.

We are cautiously encouraged by the ongoing discussions we’ve heard about, to address the Safer oil tanker and we reiterate our calls for the Houthis to allow a credible solution to proceed urgently in order to prevent an unimaginable – and entirely avoidable – humanitarian and environmental disaster.

Finally Mr. President, we thank the Yemen Panel of Experts for its work shining a light on the darkest elements of this conflict. The Panel’s findings are invaluable in helping this Council carry out its responsibilities.

Thank you.