Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Yemen

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
Acting Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
June 17, 2019


Thank you, Mr. President. I want to thank Special Envoy Griffiths, Under-Secretary General Lowcock, and Executive Director Beasley for their briefings, and for the tireless efforts of their teams. The United States acknowledges the tragedy of this man-made crisis in Yemen, which continues to deteriorate as the conflict continues for a fifth year.

We strongly condemn the reported Houthi missile attack on Abha Airport on June 12, which injured numerous innocent civilians. The Houthis need to implement the commitments they made in Sweden instead of launching such attacks. As we repeatedly hear in this Council, there is no military solution to this conflict.

The Houthis must demonstrate good faith in the political process and cease UAV and other attacks against their fellow citizens and their neighbors. Iran needs to stop supplying the Houthis with the weapons to do so. Attacks on Yemen’s neighbors threaten to derail progress made by the UN and the parties to the conflict, and they do not serve the greater interests of the people of Yemen.

Mr. President, the United States’ goal in Yemen remains consistent: to work with our international partners to bring peace, prosperity, and stability to Yemen. This is our focus and we will continue to support Special Envoy Griffiths, General Lollesgaard, Under Secretary General Lowcock and Executive Director Beasley.

Since December, this Council has urged the Houthis to finish the first phase of redeployments initiated on May 11, demonstrating their commitment to a political settlement and to the terms of the Stockholm Agreement. It is imperative that the Yemeni government and the Houthis work in good faith with Special Envoy Griffiths and General Lollesgaard to achieve a full implementation of the redeployments as soon as possible. This means addressing the contentious issues preventing further progress on the ground while continuing to exercise restraint so the fighting does not threaten the ceasefire.

Mr. President, we were pleased to hear of initial progress toward positioning additional UN monitors, should redeployments proceed as planned. We must all seize the momentum of that progress: the Council should continue to demonstrate full support for the efforts of the Special Envoy and the RCC on the ground. The parties must facilitate the UN monitors’ arrival in Yemen by providing permits and safe passage.

The ceasefire in Hudaydah is one of the Stockholm Agreement’s most important outcomes. It was meant to encourage a nationwide de-escalation of hostilities, but as we have heard, has instead led to the redeployment of forces from Hudaydah to other battlegrounds. The escalation in Ad Dhale and Hajjah threatens humanitarian access and forces residents to flee for their lives. Fighting around the country, not just in Hudaydah, needs to end. Apart from Hudaydah, in the rest of Yemen, civilians are living in desperation as today’s briefings repeatedly underscored.

The Yemeni Government has demonstrated a clear commitment to the UN-led process. We call on the Houthis to demonstrate to the international community that they too are serious about the UN process by removing all Houthi-affiliated personnel from the ports of Hudaydah, Saleef, and Ras Issa so that the first phase of redeployments can be completed.

Mr. President, we reiterate our deep concern about the rise in suspected cholera cases this year, and call on all parties to provide humanitarian support, including by providing the funding that was pledged in Geneva in February. We further call on the parties to allow access to food, medical care, and safe shelter for displaced people throughout the country.

Mr. President, the United States supports WFP’s efforts to ensure that critical humanitarian aid is delivered throughout Yemen to those who need it and in accordance with international humanitarian principles of impartiality, neutrality, and independence. We call on the Houthi authorities to respect international humanitarian principles and to work with WFP toward a swift resolution. With some 20 million people in need of emergency food assistance, and more than 24 million requiring some type of humanitarian assistance, it is critical that aid gets to those who need it immediately.

In conclusion, Mr. President, the United States’ support for Special Envoy Griffiths and General Lollesgaard remains steadfast. They, their staffs, and the international humanitarian community are working tirelessly to help the parties reach a peaceful, enduring resolution to the conflict and to save Yemeni lives. The United States applauds the Yemeni Government for joining them in this effort, and calls on the Houthis to do so without further delay.

I thank you, Mr. President.