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Moving towards a ceasefire in Yemen

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Thank you, President. We also thank Envoy Martin Griffith and Deputy Secretary Mark Rocock for the briefing. And I would like to express my gratitude to the Yemeni who spoke to the Security Council through Mark Rocock today. The situation is so desperate for the Yemenis that this committee and the parties in the field have to act like those who said it.

We are very concerned that Yemen’s humanitarian situation continues to plunge to new depths as it fights the economic crisis, the increased risk of famine and the massive outbreak of Covid-19. While Yemen is assessed as crossing its initial Covid-19 peak, concerns are over the possibility of new infections and more deaths. It is important to continue public health mitigation efforts, and we urge all Yemeni parties to transparently report their cases to ensure unlimited humanitarian access and promote UN response.

Indirect effects of Covid-19, including Yemen’s fragile economy, will last much longer. Yemeni currency hits an all-time low, and food prices have risen more than 20% since January. Now we need urgent external financial assistance to the central bank to stabilize prices and enable more people to buy food.

In light of these economic crises, recent food insecurity and economic data suggest that the situation in Yemen is worse or similar than at the end of 2018, when famine has already been found nationwide. And, as we’ve heard, famine is now a realistic prospect in Yemen this year.

In addition to financial aid, the main action the international community can take to prevent famine is to provide significant funding for UN humanitarian appeals. With the fast approach of the new General Assembly high-level week, the United Nations was only $900 million this year versus about $2.6 billion as of last year. Humanitarian response is shrinking due to this funding gap, and if no new funding is available by October, 7 million people will stop supplying food.

To respond to this funding crisis, the British Foreign Minister announced an increase of $32 million in additional funding for Yemen earlier this month, in addition to what the UK has already promised. We welcome other countries’ announcements of additional funding, but urge all donors to do their part and urgently provide funding to UN appeals. And we urge everyone who donated money last year to do so again at the same level this year.

President, we desperately need a political solution to alleviate the humanitarian crisis and end the conflict forever. And, as Ive repeatedly said at this committee, Britain fully supports Martin Griffiths’ hard work and patience. Today I would like to urge the Yemeni political parties, which I mean by the Yemeni government, to cooperate with him as much as the Huthi and to agree with his proposal as soon as possible. The window of opportunity to end this conflict is closed. It is in the hands of the parties to cooperate with Martin Griffiths and reach an agreement. It is in their hands whether they are ready to act in the interests of people or only in their own interests.

I would like to welcome the unity of the Security Council on this issue here and at the ministerial level. Later this week we will co-host an event on Yemen with the Secretary General and others, which will demonstrate our close council and international cooperation. We need to unite with our colleagues as we send messages to the parties and assist Martin Griffiths in reaching consensus.

The UK is very concerned about Marib’s situation. Houthi’s offensive not only leads to painful loss of lives, but also risks derailing the political process at this critical stage. We welcome and fully support the envoy’s strong statement to Marib. I urge this council and the wider international community to send a strong and unified message to Hooty to halt the attack on Marib and negotiate peace.

Dear President, we must not forget the SAFER tanker, where this committee received several briefings and held individual meetings in the early summer. This poses a significant environmental and economic threat to the region. I welcome the progress made in the negotiations between Houthis and UNOPS on the scope of the assessment and repair mission, but this mission must be made urgently. Houthis must fulfill its promise by allowing UN experts to get on board the tanker to get the job done as quickly as possible.

President, time is running out. The parties must move quickly to agree to a ceasefire and to participate in a comprehensive political process. If not, this committee should be ready to take action.

Thank you, President.

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