Ambassador Linda Thomas-GreenfieldU.S. Representative to the United Nations New York, New York August 16, 2023
Let me start by thanking Special Envoy Grundberg and Director Wosornu for your briefings. Your briefings highlight the UN’s intensive efforts to address challenges facing the Yemeni people. And I am grateful for the opportunity to hear from Amat Al-Salam Al-Hajj, founder of Mothers of Abductees – which advocates for the unconditional and immediate release of unjustly detained persons in Yemen.
I also would like to express my deep and profound condolences to the family of WFP Staff, Moayad Hameidi. Those who attack and kill humanitarian workers must be held accountable.
The United States also welcomes the release of the five UN personnel who were kidnapped in the southern governorate of Abyan last year. But too many innocent people are still in detention, including wrongfully targeted individuals and religious minorities – as well as members of the United States’ Locally Employed Staff, who have been detained in Sana’a for over a year and a half. We call for the release of all those who have been unjustly detained, including 11 Yemeni Baha’is and Levi Marhabi.
Colleagues, today, I am pleased to highlight a bright spot for Yemen: the continued success of the UN-led Safer operation. All the oil – as you’ve heard – from the decaying vessel has now been transferred onto a new vessel: The Yemen. The completion of the UN operation’s emergency phase was an enormous effort undertaken by the UN system, the international community, and private sector donors. And we’re grateful to David Gressly and his team, UNDP, and the ships’ crew.
But this operation is not yet finished. And we need continued coordination and funding to see this through to completion, and eliminate any residual threats. The UN needs 22 million dollars to finish the job. And we urge Member States, the private sector, environmental groups to step up without delay.
Colleagues, the Safer operation is a model example of international cooperation. It shows what we can accomplish when we work together. And we must use this as a blueprint as we work to meet the immense humanitarian needs of Yemen.
The United States welcomes Saudi Arabia’s recent announcement of 1.2 billion dollars in budget support for the Republic of Yemen government, which can help mitigate the worst consequences of the dire economic situation. But more attention and financial support are needed to address Yemen’s economic and humanitarian crisis – especially at a time when the UN’s response effort in Yemen remains grossly underfunded.
Houthi attacks on maritime shipping are also exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. We strongly condemn these senseless attacks, which impede much-needed oil export avenues* that fund basic services.
Ultimately – as we’ve heard from our briefers – only a durable and inclusive political resolution between the parties can ease the suffering of the Yemeni people. And advancing justice and accountability is key to peacebuilding efforts. To that end, the United States welcomes the launch of the Yemen Declaration for Justice and Reconciliation – an impressive initiative from over 40 Yemeni civil society organizations and survivor associations to achieve justice and reconciliation for post-conflict Yemen.
We also commend Amat’s advocacy for women’s rights and civil freedom, and condemn the worrisome trend of gender-based violence in Yemen. The United Nations Population Fund estimates 7.1 million women and girls require services to prevent and address gender-based violence. We know women’s shelters and other services remain overstretched or completely absent. And we know women detainees and migrants in Yemen face an increased risk of sexual violence and extortion. This is deeply disturbing, and wholly unacceptable.
We must all do everything possible to stamp out gender-based violence, support the UN’s peacebuilding efforts, and address Yemen’s security, economic, and humanitarian challenges. The Yemeni people have endured nearly a decade of fighting. And they are crying out for peace and justice. We must not let them down.