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

Ambassador Jeffrey L. DeLaurentis
Acting Deputy Representative of the United States to the United Nations
New York, New York
March 15, 2023

Thank you, Mr. President. Let me start by joining others in extending our condolences and support to the people of Mozambique and Malawi who were affected by the disaster of Cyclone Freddy – by all accounts a truly horrific storm.

Thank you to Special Envoy Grundberg, Under Secretary-General Msuya, and Ambassador Dautllari for your insightful updates.

Last month’s pledging conference represented an important step towards meeting the dire humanitarian need in Yemen, where two-thirds of the population needs aid.

Much more is needed, however, as a $3.1 billion shortfall remains.  We commend those donors who pledged to help and urge the international community to give generously to help raise the $4.3 billion needed to address the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The United States remains resolute in its commitment to alleviate the suffering of millions of Yemenis.  Secretary Blinken announced our additional contribution of more than $444 million to the humanitarian response in Yemen – with more to come this year.  This announcement brings our total humanitarian aid to more than $5.4 billion since the conflict began.

We are concerned that if the UN and its partners do not receive additional funding, the humanitarian community will be forced to make cuts to critical programs.  We cannot afford further deterioration of the humanitarian situation or disruption of the positive environment created by the truce.

We reaffirm the importance of the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism in facilitating the flow of essential goods, including food and fuel, into Yemen.  Unfortunately, inside Yemen, we are concerned about reports that the Houthis are blocking the flow of essential goods from the south.  Such threats to economic activity increase the suffering of all Yemenis and exacerbate the humanitarian crisis.  These Houthi actions further compound the humanitarian and economic consequences of Houthi attacks striking Yemeni ports, which deprive Yemen of hundreds of millions of dollars in resources for salary payments and services.

We are also increasingly concerned about diminishing humanitarian access to Yemen’s most vulnerable, exacerbated by Houthi mahram requirements, which hinder aid operations as others have raised today.  We continue to call on the Houthis to release our detained Yemeni staff members, who have done nothing wrong, and to reunite them with their families.

The United States remains supportive of intensive discussions among the parties and is hopeful that they will lead to an expanded, Yemeni-Yemeni agreement under UN auspices that paves the way for a durable ceasefire and inclusive political process.  This is the only path to address Yemenis’ calls for justice, accountability, and redress for human rights violations and abuses.

We welcome the Republic of Yemen Government’s continuous support for UN efforts, and support from Saudi Arabia, Oman, and other regional countries.  We urge the Houthis to engage in negotiations in good faith and to work with the UN to keep Yemen on the path to peace.  We hope that the recently announced agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran will contribute to efforts to secure a durable solution to the conflict in Yemen, address the continued flow of Iranian lethal aid to the Houthis, and ensure Iranian support for a Yemeni political process.  Efforts to achieve stability in the region are welcome.

On sanctions, we are pleased that this Council renewed the mandate of the 2140 Committee’s Panel of Experts and sanctions measures last month.  We would also like to thank the Panel of Experts for its annual report and excellent coverage of investigations into violations of the 2140 targeted arms embargo.

We are dismayed, however, to see weapons continue to flow from Iran to the Houthis.  So far this year, the United States, France, and the UK have intercepted four vessels carrying thousands of such weapons in direct violation of this Council’s targeted arms embargo. We remind Member States involved in these illicit transfers that they are in violation of this Council’s resolutions and that only by ending such shipments will they allow the Yemeni people the greatest possible chance at peace.

Finally, we welcome the UN’s recent announcement regarding acquisition of a Very Large Crude Carrier, onto which oil from the decaying Safer tanker will be offloaded.  This effort will prevent an environmental catastrophe in the Red Sea that would have dramatic humanitarian and economic repercussions.  We urge the UN to move forward as expeditiously as possible with this operation and call on donors to help raise the additional $34 million in funding needed.

Mr. President, this is a hopeful moment for Yemen.  We stand ready to support peace.  After eight long years of war, we hope Yemen and its neighbors will choose peace and work to bring its rewards to a population that has suffered for far too long.