Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
July 11, 2022
Thank you, Madam President. Thank you, Special Envoy Grundberg and Assistant Secretary-General Msuya. We are grateful for you and for your teams’ commitment to improving the lives of the Yemeni people.
We welcome the fact that the truce in Yemen continues to hold. It has significantly reduced violence and improved freedom of movement. It has created momentum towards peace. But we must sustain and build on this progress, as the Special Envoy has noted, and doing so requires compromise – compromise by all parties.
Our message today is clear: This Council must urge the parties to the conflict to continue to choose peace over violence and to fully implement the terms of the truce. We recognize the considerable leadership and flexibility demonstrated by the Republic of Yemen government in facilitating flights from Sana’a and fuel imports to northern Yemen. Unfortunately, as we have heard, we have not seen the same action from the Houthis on Taiz, a city that has been under siege-like conditions for seven years.
We join others in calling on the Houthis to demonstrate their commitment to the UN-led peace process and reciprocate these gestures by meaningfully improving access to Taiz. Doing so would alleviate humanitarian suffering and allow tens of thousands of civilians to access basic goods and to see loved ones. Immediate action to unblock the roads to Taiz is essential – essential to maintaining the current truce. And it will help pave the way for a more comprehensive and durable agreement – an agreement that can do more to bring resources, stability, and opportunity to people across Yemen; an agreement that can more durably halt fighting; and an agreement that can begin to bring Yemenis together to decide on a brighter future for their country.
In addition to action on Taiz, all parties must be prepared to engage fully and meaningfully in UN-led political talks. Only a Yemeni-Yemeni political settlement can provide durable peace in Yemen. And such a political process must be inclusive and consider the voices of women, civil society, and members of marginalized groups – and include their calls for justice and accountability.
The United States fully supports Special Envoy Grundberg’s efforts. We thank Saudi Arabia for its leadership in endorsing and implementing terms of the truce, and we remain grateful for Oman’s important role. We also recognize the constructive role Jordan and Egypt have played in opening their airports to flights from Sana’a. These regional and international efforts towards peace are significant and should continue.
We demand the Houthis unconditionally and immediately release the current and former U.S. and UN locally employed Yemeni staff they have imprisoned in Sana’a. It is long past time that the Houthis end this outrageous behavior. Likewise, we remind all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law, and we call on them to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all in Yemen.
We welcome the news that the Republic of Yemen government and Saudi Arabia are accelerating implementation of development projects and disbursement of economic and electricity support. That support will bolster the Presidential Leadership Council’s important work to improve basic services and economic stability. We call on others in the international community and regional partners to support the Presidential Leadership Council’s efforts.
And we agree with others who have spoken before me: Donors must take action now to avert an economic, humanitarian, and environmental disaster in the Red Sea. Only 20 million more U.S. dollars are needed to prevent a catastrophic spill from the Safer oil tanker, a spill that would cost the region and beyond tens of billions in clean-up costs and lost revenue. This is our best opportunity for action, as the risk of a spill will increase greatly this fall. Donors, including private sector actors, need to step forward now and fund the UN’s emergency project.
We also urge immediate financial support to help the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism for Yemen, UNVIM, helping to close the funding gap of $3.5 million this year that is urgently needed to facilitate the unimpeded free-flow of commercial goods into Yemen. The United States contributed $1 million earlier this year to keep UNVIM operational, and we call on other donors to contribute as well.
Today we also express our support for the renewal of the UNMHA mandate to support the implementation of the 2018 Hudaydah Agreement.
In conclusion, Madam President, recent months have witnessed some of the most significant progress towards peace in Yemen in years. But forging a lasting peace will require all the parties to take concrete action to demonstrate their commitment to this goal. The international community must be ready to support these efforts, while also holding all parties accountable for their actions.