Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
June 14, 2022
Thank you. Let me start by thanking Special Envoy Grundberg, OCHA Acting Director Mudawi, and Ms. Al-Salafi, our civil society briefer, for your briefings today. We are very grateful for all of your dedicated efforts.
Colleagues – today, there is reason for hope. Thanks to the extension of the truce for another sixty days, this is the best opportunity for peace that Yemen has had in years. Over the past two months, we have witnessed a dramatic reduction in civilian casualties, improved freedom of movement and humanitarian access, and increased access to fuel and basic goods.
This is a cause for genuine optimism, but make no mistake – there is difficult work ahead. And I’d like to emphasize that building on this progress will be a central focus of President Biden’s trip to the region next month, which we just announced today. We can and must capitalize on this unique moment to solidify recent gains and lay the groundwork for a long-awaited political resolution to the conflict.
The parties must implement their responsibilities under the truce in good faith and work together to agree to a permanent ceasefire. The Yemeni government has demonstrated important flexibility in facilitating the flow of fuel into Hudaydah and the resumption of commercial flights from Sana’a to Cairo and Amman. Now it is incumbent on the Houthis to demonstrate their own commitment by immediately opening roads to the city of Taiz, easing the suffering of hundreds of thousands of Yemenis.
The next two months are critical to long-term peace efforts, and we urge all parties to cooperate fully with Special Envoy Grundberg as he builds on the truce to launch a comprehensive and inclusive political process. Because a political settlement is the only way – I repeat, the only way – to provide true and long-lasting peace to the Yemeni people. This process must include the voices of women, civil society, and members from other marginalized groups.
We also recognize the efforts of the governments of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan, and Egypt in helping secure the truce. Continued international and regional support for the UN-led process is essential.
But as we work toward a long-term peace, we cannot lose sight of the immediate, dire humanitarian needs of the Yemeni people. In that spirit, we support the Presidential Leadership Council and its efforts to improve basic services and economic stability. And we welcome pledged international support for the Presidential Leadership Council’s plans to tackle these challenges and urge donors to quickly disburse funds to address critical needs. But more help is needed. And we should build on the progress of the truce to avert a needless environmental and economic catastrophe. Additional funds are currently needed to address the mounting risks posed by the corroding Safer oil tanker.
The United States is pleased to announce we are working with Congress to provide $10 million toward these efforts. Now, other donors, including private sector actors, must step up so work can start on the emergency project before weather conditions further exacerbate the risks of disaster.
Finally, we were deeply saddened to learn of the death in Houthi detention of retired U.S. Embassy employee Abdulhameed al-Ajami. The United States extends its condolences to his family and loved ones, whom the Houthis callously deprived of any contact with Mr. al-Ajami. We condemn the unjust detention by the Houthis of Mr. al-Ajami and 12 other current and former U.S. and UN staff. And we demand the Houthis immediately and unconditionally release them before any further harm is done.
We remind all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law, and we call on them to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all those in Yemen. Full stop.
The world is watching and hoping that all parties in Yemen choose peace over continued war, suffering, and destruction. We must all seize this pivotal hour and put in the hard work to secure a lasting peace. Thank you, Mr. President.