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
October 14, 2021


Thank you, Madam President. And thank you to Special Envoy Grundberg, to Ramesh Rajasingham, and to Ms. Shuja al-Deen for your remarks and continued efforts. And I welcome the presence of the Yemeni government here today.

Today I will focus on four aspects of the situation in Yemen: the Houthi offensive, the situation in Aden, the economic and humanitarian situation, and the challenge of accountability in this conflict.

First: The United States remains deeply concerned by the Houthi offensive against Marib – home to over one million internally displaced people. The dramatic escalation has led to hundreds of casualties. In particular, the United States strongly condemns the October 3 Houthi missile attack on Marib that killed two children and injured an estimated 33 more civilians. Further, the Houthi siege of Abdiya is putting tens of thousands of civilians at grave risk. We also condemn recent Houthi cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia at King Abdullah and Abha airports, wounding more than a dozen innocent people. These heinous acts targeting civilian airport employees and travelers undermine peace efforts. These actions defy the international and regional consensus on ending the war and they are the single biggest obstacle to peace.

During this challenging time, the United States believes it is all the more important the Security Council demonstrates unwavering support for Special Envoy Grundberg’s work and does not shy away from calling out Houthi obstruction. The Houthis have consistently refused to commit to a ceasefire, discuss a political resolution to the conflict, or engage constructively with the United Nations. It is up to us, as a Council, to individually and collectively press the Houthis to engage meaningfully.

Second: The situation in Aden and beyond remains precarious. The United States condemns the attack against Government of Yemen officials over the past week and we extend our condolences to the families of those who were killed. Yemenis deserve peace, and we support the Government of Yemen’s efforts to restore stability and improve the lives of all Yemenis. In this vein, we welcome the Prime Minister’s return to Aden. The United States asks members to consider providing targeted financial support to bolster the Prime Minister’s efforts to improve the provisions of services for the Yemeni people.

Which leads me to my third point: The humanitarian and economic situation in Yemen is dire, and the Yemeni people need our help. Right now, Yemenis cannot obtain basic services, and they are trapped in a downward spiral. To that end, we must press the Houthis, the Yemeni Government, and Saudi Arabia to ensure fuel is brought into and distributed throughout Yemen at prices Yemenis can afford.

And the rest of the international community must do what it can. We are grateful to the European Union, Sweden, and Switzerland for co-hosting last month’s pledging event. For our part, as Secretary Blinken announced during High-Level Week, the United States is providing more than $290 million in additional humanitarian assistance for the people of Yemen, bringing our total for fiscal year 2021 to over $800 million. We must all urge donor nations to contribute to the Humanitarian Response Plan.

Fourth and finally, we need to hold all parties accountable for their actions. The reports of flagrant violations of basic human rights and the rule of law in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen are deeply worrying, particularly the September 18 public execution of nine individuals, one of whom was a minor. The Houthis must respect basic human rights and all Yemenis must have access to fair trials and due process under international law.

On the Safer oil tanker, the Houthis must stop negotiating in bad faith with the international community and permit the UN to conduct an assessment and urgent repairs without conditions or further delays. The Houthis will bear full responsibility when a leak, spill, or explosion occurs, but worse, the Yemeni people will bear the brunt of the suffering. Given these kinds of acts, the United States, like many of you, deeply disappointed by what happened in the Human Rights Council last week. It is appalling that the mandate for the Group of Eminent Experts in Yemen was not renewed. The people of Yemen deserve accountability.

Before I conclude, I want to acknowledge the third Yemen report released by the Office of the SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict. The report details the ravages this conflict has inflicted on Yemen’s children. It is truly sobering. The conflict is killing Yemen’s children – Yemen’s own future. Those children deserve peace – the kind of peace only a political solution can grant them.

Thank you, Madam President.