Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a UN Security Council Briefing on Yemen

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 14, 2021


Thank you, Mr. President and thank you to our briefers, Hans and Ramesh, for your briefings and I welcome the Yemini PR’s presence and look forward to his briefing later.

Colleagues, as we have heard this morning, the humanitarian situation in Yemen remains dire, and the needs of the Yemeni people clear. With continued conflict, Yemen’s economy will deteriorate further, and with it, the livelihoods of millions of Yemenis. Lives will continue to be endangered, and generations of Yemenis will bear its scars.

Special Envoy Grundberg, again thank you for your briefing as alarming as it was, we are encouraged by your efforts to consult a broad range of Yemenis as you develop your new framework for an inclusive political process so urgently needed to end this conflict. All parties must meaningfully engage with you – and in this political process. To that end, this Council has an important voice. We must continue to urge all parties to work in good faith with Special Envoy Grundberg – and we must speak out if and when any party fails to do so.

Unfortunately, we have seen a series of Houthi actions in recent months that undermine peace. Last month this Council came together to condemn in the strongest terms the Houthis’ detention of local staff of the U.S. government in Sana’a, as well as the Houthi security services’ breach of the compound formerly used as our embassy. The Council’s statement was followed by similar statements from nearly two dozen countries and multilateral organizations. Thank you to those countries, and organizations, for your support and your clear messages that such action represents an affront to the entire international community.

Yet still, the Houthis continue to detain and harass our Yemeni local staff and intrude into the former embassy compound. The Houthis must immediately release — unharmed — all current and former Yemeni employees of the United States. They must immediately vacate the U.S. compound and return all seized property and cease their threats against their own fellow citizens, simply for being employed by us.

Similarly, the Houthis have ignored repeated calls from this Council and the international community to cease their offensive in Marib province. The offensive endangers thousands of civilians, and OCHA has warned it could lead to the displacement of half a million people. The Houthis must stop this offensive immediately.

On December 9, a Houthi missile hit an IDP camp managed by the International Organization for Migration. Five children were among those injured. This is unacceptable. We condemn in the strongest terms this and similar, all-too-frequent attacks against civilians. We also condemn the intensification of Houthi cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia in recent months, including three ballistic missiles launched at Riyadh just last week. The Houthis have conducted well over 350 such attacks this year — a staggering number and a shocking increase from last year’s total.

These provocative and dangerous actions are impediments to peace. They also underscore the need for Iran to end its lethal support to the Houthis, which contravenes this body’s resolutions and enables the Houthis’ reckless attacks. Each of these Houthi attacks on its own is unacceptable. Together, they send a chilling and unmistakable signal about Houthi unwillingness to participate in a peaceful political process or in a future government that upholds the rule of law.

While the Houthis continue their escalatory actions, we welcome the efforts of other parties to improve conditions in Yemen, including the UN initiative to scale up its approach for addressing the drivers of food insecurity throughout Yemen. In addition, like the UK, we are encouraged by the December 6 appointment of a new Central Bank of Yemen Governor and Chairman of the Board, as well as other new board members. We hope these appointments serve as a step forward in addressing the economic instability that is deepening humanitarian suffering and will push forward needed reforms. True progress cannot be sustained, however, without additional resources. We hope countries can seize this moment to support Yemen’s economy and bring urgently needed relief to its people. The Special Envoy’s strong appeal for action has been heard loudly and clearly by this Council.

Finally, the Safer tanker remains an environmental, humanitarian, and economic threat of vast proportions. The Houthis bear responsibility for this situation, and the United States supports discussion of any solution that can safely and urgently address it.

The Yemeni people deserve peace and prosperity. In the face of Houthi provocations, harassment, and violence against their own people, I want the Houthi to know that the United States will never give up on the people of Yemen. Special Envoy Grundberg, thank you again for your proactive efforts during you first few months to kickstart this peace process. I hope this Council will continue to stand united as we do everything in our power to bring this conflict to an end. Thank you.