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
May 12, 2021


Thank you, Mr. President. And let me join others in wishing Eid Mubarak to all of our colleagues and friends who are coming to the close of Eid. Thank you, as always, to our briefers for their updates and steadfast efforts.

The United States is unwavering in its commitment to using diplomacy to end the war in Yemen. U.S. Special Envoy Timothy Lenderking has been working tirelessly with Special Envoy Griffiths to bring the parties together to end the conflict. Both special envoys spent last week working with stakeholders in Muscat and Riyadh, as well as actively engaging with officials from Saudi Arabia and the Government of Yemen.

As you have heard from Special Envoy Griffiths, he has put a fair deal on the table. The proposal includes commitments to easing restrictions on the port and airport – a key Houthi demand – and to a ceasefire and inclusive political talks. While urgent action on the port and airport are needed, only through a comprehensive ceasefire can we hope to truly bring relief to the Yemeni people.

The Saudis and the Yemeni government continue to engage constructively, but the Houthis passed up a major opportunity to make progress on this proposal by refusing to meet with Special Envoy Griffiths. Instead, the Houthis continue to prioritize their assault on Marib, exacerbating the humanitarian needs for the one million people who have been forced to flee their homes and have found refuge in the city. This violence from the Houthis – especially against IDP sites on the outskirts of Marib – is unacceptable, and it must stop immediately. This offensive risks overwhelming an already strained humanitarian response and triggering a dangerous wave of escalation across the entire country. There is no greater threat to peace in Yemen.

We understand that there is no simple solution to the conflict in Yemen. But a resolution becomes exponentially harder when one side of the conflict is committed to pursuing a military solution and rejects diplomatic negotiations. Right now, the Houthis seem to have no interest in peace. In a similar vein, the Houthis continue to delay the UN assessment and initial repair of the Safer oil tanker. It’s been almost two years. We call on the Houthis to allow the assessment to proceed as soon as possible, and urge other nations to press the Houthis to allow the assessment to move forward immediately.

But despite this continued, cruel, and callous obstinance from the Houthis, there’s hope for Yemen yet. Here’s the good news: we have stronger international and regional consensus on ending this war than ever before. The Saudi and Yemeni governments are prepared to bring this war to an end. They have publicly announced their commitment to reach an end to the conflict in line with Special Envoy Griffiths’ proposal. The Government of Oman is also playing an important role in facilitating efforts between the key stakeholders.

So, we urge the Houthis to stop standing in the way of peace and commit to a comprehensive ceasefire. Each day the Houthis continue with their offensive in Marib is in direct defiance of the Council and an attack on its own people. And each day, the humanitarian disaster in Yemen gets darker, crueler, and more bleak. Over 16 million Yemenis – more than 54 percent of the country’s population – are in acute need of food assistance. The war is starving the country.

There is only one way to permanently address the humanitarian crisis in Yemen: a lasting ceasefire and an inclusive political solution. But until that happens, the international community must step up to fund the humanitarian response without delay. And all parties must permit the free flow of both commercial and humanitarian commodities such as fuel, food, and medical supplies. Otherwise, it’s hard to imagine how much worse it will get for the Yemenis. The people of Yemen need our help. They need peace. And until then, they need all the resources that they can get.

Thank you very much, Mr. President.