Remarks for the United Nations Security Council Briefing on Yemen

Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet
Acting Deputy Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
January 10, 2020


Thank you Mr. President. And thank you Special Envoy Griffiths and Director Rajasingham for your briefings and for the dedicated work of your teams.

The United States welcomes the renewal of the mandate for the UN Mission to Support the Hudaydah Agreement with full Council support. With the renewal of this mandate, we hope to see further progress on the commitments made in Stockholm, along with efforts to reach a broader political solution. The Security Council’s unanimous position on this issue is noteworthy and signifies strong, collective support of the UN and the role it plays in Yemen, both politically and for its work in delivering humanitarian assistance. We thank the United Kingdom for its efforts in facilitating a smooth mandate renewal.

The United States views ongoing de-escalation efforts and reports of progress by the Yemeni parties in implementing the Riyadh Agreement as encouraging. In particular, we welcome reports that work on security arrangements for Aden is underway, and we look forward to the announcement of a governor and a security chief in Aden. These are important steps on the path to a broader political settlement. A more inclusive cabinet is in the best interest of all Yemenis and will contribute to a sustainable resolution for this devastating conflict.

While we are heartened by these positive developments, the United States remains extremely concerned about the state of humanitarian access and the treatment of humanitarian workers, particularly in the north. The recent strike on the Red Sea Mills, a critical source of food for thousands of vulnerable Yemenis, is unjustifiable. We would like to recognize the significant efforts of the World Food Program in restoring operations at the mills.

We call on the Houthi authorities to reduce the significant and detrimental impediments to the delivery of humanitarian assistance. This includes the lifting of access restrictions and the elimination of illegitimate levies on aid projects, both of which heavily delay the delivery of essential assistance and place an undue burden on humanitarian partners attempting to provide critical and life-saving aid.

The United States stands by the UN and NGO efforts to continue to provide humanitarian aid based on the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence despite the increasingly restrictive environment. To the Houthi authorities, we say: We, as a principled humanitarian donor, want to continue to provide aid in the areas you control. We believe all Yemenis in need deserve life-saving assistance. Please do not make it impossible for us to continue doing this.

We also note that no progress has been made on securing clearance to allow UN officials to access the site of the Safer oil tanker, which is still floating off the coast of Hudaydah under Houthi control. With 1.14 million barrels of oil on a rapidly deteriorating vessel, this Council should work together to prevent what could be an environmental and humanitarian disaster. The Houthis must grant the UN the necessary visas and clearances to access the site to conduct vital inspection and provide necessary maintenance.

In closing, Mr. President, the United States continues to encourage the parties to capitalize on recent progress and move towards broader political talks. Even as regional tensions persist, we are encouraged by the recent signs of progress, and we hope the parties maintain this path of restraint and de-escalation. In keeping with this path, they must stop jeopardizing the lives of ordinary Yemenis and allow humanitarian workers to do their work. Too many have suffered from this conflict, and the time has come for a solution.

Thank you.