Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations
October 13, 2022
Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Special Envoy Grundberg and Assistant-Secretary-General Msuya, for your briefings today on the situation in Yemen. Your dedication and efforts to help facilitate peace are truly commendable. As we just heard from the Special Envoy, we are now at a pivotal moment – a moment where Yemen could continue on the path to a durable peace or descend into another destructive cycle of violence. It is our responsibility as the Security Council to be clear – clear about why Yemen has diverted from the path to peace: it is because of the actions of the Houthis, who failed to accept the UN truce proposal and whose inflammatory threats to commercial enterprises are an offense to the entire international community.
It is the Houthis who must take action to prevent further suffering and enable even greater benefits for Yemenis under an expanded truce agreement. They have a moral responsibility not to deprive Yemenis of these benefits, including salary payments for nurses and teachers and tens of thousands of other civil servants who have not been paid in years. Other benefits would include, as the Special Envoy has just indicated, streamlined processes for imports through Hudaydah port to ensure the flow of fuel continues completely unimpeded; the opening of roads around Taiz and across the country, in line with the previous truce terms; and expanded commercial flights from Sana’a, so Yemenis can reunite with loved ones and seek medical care.
The United States is encouraged that the parties largely continue to abide by the terms of the truce, and that UN-led negotiations are continuing. We appreciate the commitments of the Yemeni Government and Saudi Arabia to maintain the terms of the truce and to exercise restraint during this sensitive period. We implore the Houthis to do the same, and to seize this opportunity to do the right thing for the Yemeni people before it is too late.
At a time of global turmoil and division, there is a remarkable international consensus in support of the UN truce: there is no military solution to the conflict in Yemen. An inclusive, durable peace agreement remains the only option to prevent more suffering for Yemenis, a resurgence in civilian deaths, and a deeper humanitarian crisis. So, we hope the Houthis do not reject the pleas of the Yemini people for peace and ignore the international consensus to extend the truce. Rather, we urge them to engage in good-faith negotiations to ensure an inclusive, durable peace in Yemen.
We also appreciate the strong commitment of regional partners such as Oman, Saudi Arabia, and others to ending the devastating cycle of destruction in Yemen and to bring in new opportunities to that country. We call on the Houthis to cease rhetoric threatening commercial shipping and oil companies in the region. Such threats are unacceptable and even a small incident or provocation could have an outsized impact on Yemen’s future, so we urge all parties to exercise restraint during this sensitive time.
Even as we seek a way forward on the truce, the United States commends the significant progress made on the Safer oil tanker. Donors have now raised enough to enable the emergency UN project to avert an environmental and economic catastrophe in the Red Sea. We thank the broad coalition of countries, organizations, and individuals around the globe who have come together to support this critical project. The United States has disbursed its $10 million commitment and we call on others to do the same, so that implementation of this important project can begin expeditiously, before weather conditions make the operation even riskier.
In conclusion Mr. President, the Houthis have a historic decision to make, one that will be remembered for generations to come. Did they – when they had the chance – choose peace and prosperity for their people or did they choose to continue a cycle of pointless destruction, relentless violence, and economic deprivation that has plagued Yemen for the last eight years? We stand ready, with the rest of the international community, to support Yemen’s path to an inclusive, durable peace settlement and subsequent recovery efforts. But it is up to the Yemeni parties, and specifically the Houthis, to choose peace. Thank you.