August 15, 2022
Thank you, Mr. President, and let me thank Special Envoy Grundberg and Acting Director Mudawi. I want to express my gratitude to you both for your unwavering commitment to bring peace and humanitarian relief to Yemen. And thankfully, we now have an opening for a sustained peace due to the recent truce extension. We appreciate the central role played by regional partners to make this possible, including Saudi Arabia’s leadership and Oman’s efforts to promote dialogue between the parties.
Thanks to the leadership of the Presidential Leadership Council, Yemenis continue to tangibly benefit from the truce. Fifteen thousand Yemenis have flown from Sana’a airport for the first time since 2016, and five times more fuel is entering Hudaydah per month compared to 2021. This truce extension also provides an important opportunity to transition to a stronger, more comprehensive agreement – a comprehensive agreement that meaningfully expands benefits for Yemenis and allows for a durable resolution to a conflict that has gone on for far too long.
We therefore call on the parties to intensify and expedite negotiations to finalize an expanded agreement based on the proposal shared by the UN Special Envoy. An expanded agreement would allow for discussions to secure a comprehensive nationwide ceasefire and pave the way for resuming a Yemeni-Yemeni political process. And let’s be clear: such a political process must include meaningful input from women, civil society leaders, and members of other marginalized communities.
The first step to securing an expanded agreement is Houthi action on Taiz – a long overdue humanitarian imperative. So, we call on the Houthis to accept the UN Special Envoy’s proposal and open roads to Taiz without delay. Additionally, the parties must make progress on salary payments for civil servants.
We also demand the Houthis unconditionally and immediately release the current and former U.S. and UN locally employed Yemeni staff they have detained in Sana’a. And I have to repeat this: We demand their unconditional and immediate release. Holding these individuals, as well as other humanitarian workers is unacceptable, and it is long past time the Houthis end this outrageous behavior. And we are closely tracking the recent instability in Shabwah, and urge Yemenis to work through their differences peacefully in order to focus on building on the UN-mediated truce.
Before I close, I want to talk about efforts to support humanitarian needs and recovery on the ground. For our part, we have provided over $1 billion in humanitarian aid for Yemen in 2022 and nearly $5 billion since 2014, making us the largest donor to these efforts. We call on the international community to join us, and the rest of the world, in addressing one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. But Yemen needs more than just humanitarian assistance – and we also call on donors, particularly regional donors, to increase and expedite economic support that will help bolster the efforts of the Republic of Yemen’s government to stabilize the economy and strengthen basic services.
Other urgent needs include funding for the UN’s emergency project to prevent a spill from the Safer oil tanker. Such a spill would cause an economic, humanitarian, and environmental disaster in the Red Sea and cost tens of billions in clean-up costs and lost revenue. So, again, we call on donors – including from the private sector – to step forward now.
Finally, the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism for Yemen also faces a funding gap of $3.5 million this year and will suffer a lapse in operations next month if donors do not step up now. The mechanism’s efforts are essential to continue the flow of commercial goods into Yemen, preventing further deterioration of the humanitarian situation and sustaining the truce.
Colleagues – this is a critical moment for Yemen. The United States and the international community stand ready to support Yemen’s peace and recovery process – but first, the Yemeni parties must themselves choose peace. The fact that the truce in Yemen continues to hold is cause for hope. It has significantly reduced violence, it has saved lives, and improved freedom of movement; it has created momentum towards peace. Now, we must take the next steps forward.
Thank you, Mr. President.