Remarks by Ambassador Richard Mills, Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations, at a UN Security Council Briefing on Yemen

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November 22, 2022

Thank you, President. Thank you, Special Envoy Grundberg and Director Ghelani for your briefings today. Your dedication and efforts to help facilitate peace are commendable.

Nearly two months have passed since the truce expired on October 2. Like our UK colleague, we are encouraged that key elements of that truce continue to hold but remain deeply concerned the Houthis have failed to set negotiations on a path to a more durable peace and have instead taken actions that run counter to the strong, ongoing international support for UN-led peace efforts in Yemen.

Recent Houthi terrorist attacks on the al-Dhaba oil terminal and the Qana seaport are unacceptable. They are an affront to the Yemeni people and the entire international community. These Houthi attacks on commercial vessels delivering essential goods are directly exacerbating the suffering of Yemen’s people and threaten to plunge the country back into conflict.

In addition, the U.S. Navy interdicted 170 tons of lethal materials used as missile fuel components and explosives that were hidden aboard a ship bound for Yemen from Iran on November 16. The seized fuel component was enough to enable the launch of more than a dozen medium-range ballistic missiles.

A group seeking peace does not launch strikes on seaports and oil terminals, cutting off flows of humanitarian supplies and basic goods for the people in the country. A group seeking peace does not attempt to covertly import fuel for medium-range missiles. These actions will only further cripple Yemen’s economy, lead to a resurgence in civilian deaths, and worsen the humanitarian crisis.

We urge the Houthis to take another path: seize this moment and choose to end eight years of devastating war. We call on the Houthis to engage in good faith, UN-led negotiations, and return Yemen to the path of peace through a negotiated, inclusive Yemeni-led political settlement. Millions of Yemenis are calling for peace, justice, and economic stability – they’re not more weapons. There is no military solution to this conflict.

The truce provided considerable life-saving benefits to the Yemeni people, including a dramatic decline in civilian casualties, increased access to fuel, and commercial flights from Sana’a Airport for the first time since 2016. Agreement on a peace process would further set Yemen on the path to recovery and provide even greater benefits to Yemenis, such as payment of public sector salaries, road openings, more flights, and streamlined import processes.

Despite global divisions, there is remarkable unity for such a solution within the Security Council and throughout the region. We welcome the Republic of Yemen Government’s continuous support for UN efforts, and the support from Saudi Arabia, Oman, and other regional countries for initiatives aimed at peace. We also commend the restraint these partners have shown in the face of the Houthis’ recent attacks.

As we seek to end the conflict, it is important we continue to support the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism for Yemen. UNVIM has played a critical role in ensuring commercial goods can flow into Yemen unimpeded, helping to address the humanitarian crisis. Although the immediate funding crisis has been averted, it is essential UNVIM has the funds to continue operations long term.

Finally, Madam President, I would note it is critical that we maintain momentum in resolving the situation with the Safer oil tanker. With the funds for Phase One in place, it is essential we avoid any delays in the timeline for the operation.

The United States remains committed to supporting active peace efforts in Yemen. Today, the Houthis are faced with the choice to bring peace and prosperity to all Yemenis or continue a pointless cycle of violence that has destroyed the lives of so many. The United States urges the Houthis to negotiate in good faith, to address Yemenis’ calls for justice and accountability, and to show their support for an inclusive and durable peace for the country in word and deed.

Thank you.

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