Briefing to the United Nations Security Council by Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg, 11 July 2022 – Yemen
Thanks, Madame President
Let me begin by extending my warmest wishes to Yemenis and Muslims around the world on the occasion of Eid al-Adha. Eid is a time to celebrate and reflect on the values of selflessness and compassion – principles that should guide us as we work towards a more peaceful and prosperous future for Yemen.
With the deadline for the extension of the truce just three weeks away, I want to take this opportunity to 1) highlight what has been achieved in the three and a half months of the truce, 2) discuss some of the obstacles we have faced in implementing and how we are working to overcome them, and 3) charting a way forward that includes extending, consolidating and broadening the truce in order to increase the benefits for the Yemeni people and move towards a political settlement.
To date, the truce has held for more than three months. It resulted in a significant reduction in civilian casualties, with civilian casualties reduced by two-thirds compared to the three months before the truce began. Due to the sharp decline in hostilities, conflict-related civilian casualties are now primarily due to landmines and unexploded ordnance, which continue to pose a threat to civilians, including children, as they return to areas where hostilities have diminished.
Madame President, we continue to receive reports from both sides of alleged incidents inside Yemen, including direct and indirect fire, drone attacks, reconnaissance overflights and the establishment of new fortifications and trenches. The parties also reportedly sent reinforcements to key frontlines, including Ma’rib, Hudaydah and Taiz. As you know, my Office is helping the parties establish channels of communication to help them manage these alleged incidents peacefully. I am pleased to report that my Office last week convened the third meeting of the Military Coordination Committee, composed of representatives of the parties in addition to the Coalition Joint Forces Command. During the meeting, the parties discussed the formation of the joint coordination room which will be responsible for defusing incidents at the operational level and appointed a working group which has started detailed technical discussions to consolidate proposals in this regard. .
The renewal of the truce on June 2 allowed the continuation of the delivery of fuel to the port of Hudaydah. Since the renewal of the truce, seven tankers carrying almost 200,000 metric tons of various petroleum products have been allowed to enter the port of Hudaydah. High fuel prices have reduced benefits for Yemeni citizens. But there is no doubt that without the imports facilitated by the truce, this situation would be much worse. The flow of fuel imports has averted disruptions to essential public services that depend in part on fuel – such as clean water, healthcare, electricity and transport – and made a difference valuable in the daily life and well-being of Yemenis. . The United Nations Verification and Inspection Mechanism (UNVIM) has played a pivotal role in facilitating the smooth import of oil tankers into Hudaydah, in accordance with the mandate of this Council. I am deeply concerned that a lack of funds could lead to the closure of UNVIM in September.
Madame President, efforts to strengthen the freedom of movement of men and women inside Yemen as well as inside and outside Yemen must continue. Since the start of the truce, 15 round-trip commercial flights have transported nearly 7,000 passengers between Sanaa and Amman. We continue to work closely with the Egyptian authorities to facilitate scheduled flights to and from Cairo. I greatly appreciate the continued commitment of both countries. While much has been done to facilitate flights to and from Sanaa International Airport, we are working to ensure that a regular schedule of flights can fully meet the promise of the truce and the expectations of the Yemeni people.
Let me now come to Taiz and the issue of freedom of movement within the country. I sincerely believed that at this time of the truce, the parties would have reached an agreement to open roads in Taiz and other governorates. It is unfortunate for all of us, but especially for the men and women of Taiz, that many roads remain closed for the seventh consecutive year. Opening the roads is not only about alleviating humanitarian suffering and removing restrictions, it is also about beginning to normalize the conditions of daily life for Yemenis, including education, work, health services health and the economy in general.
Since my last briefing, I have continued to engage with the parties, including in Amman and during my recent visits to Riyadh and Muscat, on viable proposals to immediately open roads in Taiz and other governorates. I also continue to rely on the expertise of local mediators and representatives of civil society. Following discussions with the parties, my Office has shared an updated proposal on the phased opening of the roads. Ansar Allah has since communicated that they do not accept the latest proposal. My efforts to reach a negotiated solution will continue.
Madame President, I would like to take this opportunity to come back to the terms of the truce where the parties have undertaken to meet to agree on the opening of roads. In the days leading up to Eid Al Adha, we saw different parties announcing unilateral action to open roads. While unilateral action can be a step in the right direction, agreement on both sides is important because road openings require coordination and ongoing communication to ensure roads are opened in a safe and sustainable manner for the passage of people. civilians. The UN-facilitated process provides a platform for reaching a lasting, negotiated agreement on the route openings. I therefore encourage the parties to participate constructively in the efforts of the United Nations to reach an agreement on the opening of roads so that all Yemenis can begin to feel the tangible benefits of the truce in their daily lives. An agreement on the opening of roads in Taiz and other governorates would be crucial and its benefits would reverberate throughout Yemen.
Over the past few weeks, we have witnessed a worrying escalation by parties questioning the benefits of the truce – a dangerous move that I call on both sides to refrain from. Let’s be clear, the alternative to the truce is a return to hostilities and probably an escalation phase of the conflict with all its foreseeable consequences for Yemeni civilians and regional security. I have already highlighted the many tangible benefits of the truce for Yemeni men and women. The relative calm it brought also allowed some public works to resume and encouraged international investment. Given rising fuel prices and the global economic situation, much more needs to be done to ensure that fuel, electricity and consumer goods are available and affordable for civilians across the country. Joyce Msuya, OCHA’s Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, will speak in more detail about the humanitarian situation in Yemen.
This brings me to the way forward. Three and a half months after the start of the truce, we are still immersed in the details of the implementation of the truce. It is important. But this means that we have not been able to invest as much in the task of consolidating and extending the truce in order to bring more benefits to the people and put Yemen on the path to a settlement. sustainable policy. In my discussions with the parties, they stressed the importance of building on the truce to achieve a broader range of economic and security priorities, and not to lose the opportunity for peace it offers. Many of these priorities raised by the parties have also been highlighted by the diverse groups of Yemeni men and women my Office has been consulting with since March to inform our multi-pronged process. In the coming weeks, I will continue to explore with the parties the possibility of a longer extension and an expanded truce agreement. This would provide time and opportunity to begin serious discussions on economic and security avenues, to begin to address priority issues such as incomes as well as the payment of salaries, and to begin the process of transitioning to a ceasefire. -fire. I ask the parties to engage with me on these issues with a sense of urgency and flexibility. The participation of a wide range of Yemeni stakeholders, including women, youth and civil society, remains one of my priorities to ensure that the political settlement is sustainable and responds to the legitimate aspirations and demands of men and women. Yemenis.
Madame President, I would like to reiterate my gratitude for the continued support of this Council, as well as of the Sultanate of Oman and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and of the international community as a whole. Your concerted support for the full implementation and extension of the truce and the way forward will be vital in the weeks ahead. The truce represents the best opportunity for peace in Yemen we have had in years and we must encourage and support the parties to make the most of this opportunity for the benefit of Yemen as a whole.
Thanks a lot, Madame President.