Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a UN Security Council Briefing on Yemen

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
March 15, 2022


Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you to our briefers, Special Envoy Grundberg and Under Secretary-General Griffiths, for your tireless efforts. And I welcome the participation of the Yemeni PR today.

Today I want to address four aspects of the situation in Yemen: progress toward an inclusive political peace process, the outrageous detention of U.S. and UN locally employed staff, the results of the Council’s latest resolution on Yemen, and the humanitarian, fuel, and Safer tanker situations.

First, Special Envoy Grundberg, the United States welcomes your launch of an inclusive consultative process to work toward a resolution to this heartbreaking conflict. We applaud your work to incorporate the perspectives of a wide range of Yemeni political and civil society groups. The Security Council must maintain unified support for your efforts, which offer a valuable opportunity for Yemenis to develop a renewed vision for a political resolution to the conflict.

We all know this conflict has created significant fractures and altered the balance of power on the ground. For a peace process to be successful, it must reflect these shifts and incorporate the perspectives and the grievances of Yemenis across the country, including calls for justice and accountability. So, we call on all parties to the conflict to take part fully and meaningfully in the UN consultations. That requires permitting Special Envoy Grundberg to visit all the relevant cities, including Sana’a, without preconditions. He has held in-person consultations with senior leaders from the other key parties, and a visit to Sana’a is long overdue.

We also call on the parties to ensure their delegations to these consultations include diverse civil society representatives, women, youth, people with disabilities, and members of other marginalized groups. These perspectives are essential to identifying a durable resolution that improves the lives of all Yemenis.

Second, we are saddened to confirm the Houthis have detained yet another member of our local staff, who was abducted while shopping at a Sana’a market on February 15. This is unjust and unacceptable. We call, loudly and clearly, for the immediate release of our current and former Yemeni employees. And release them unharmed. It is time for the Houthis to cease all threats against them and their families, and to release the UN staff and others they have detained, too.

Third, we welcome the Council’s adoption of Resolution 2624, which renews the existing travel ban and asset freeze measures for another year and applies the arms embargo explicitly to the Houthis as a group. The Resolution includes strong language condemning the illicit transfer of weapons to the Houthis and the group’s cross-border terrorist attacks on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Stopping the illegal flow of weapons from Iran to the Houthis is a top priority. These weapons are only fueling the war, destabilizing the region, and exacerbating the suffering of Yemenis. We cannot stress enough the need for all Member States to strictly implement the arms embargo.

The Resolution includes strong language emphasizing the importance of facilitating humanitarian assistance, remittances, and unhindered imports of critical goods like food and fuel. This language clearly conveys the Security Council’s intent to ensure the new measures do not target humanitarian activity or legitimate trade. We are grateful for the work aid organizations and commercial importers are doing to stabilize Yemen’s economy and ensure the population can meet its basic needs. We reiterate that the language in the Resolution is not intended to prevent that work from proceeding.

Which leads me to my fourth and final point, about the humanitarian, fuel, and Safer tanker situations. Sadly, Yemen remains one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world, as evidenced by the latest highly concerning food insecurity data. Funding gaps have already forced aid organizations to make significant cuts to lifesaving assistance, impacting millions of Yemenis. Donors have an opportunity to change this on March 16, at the virtual 2022 High-Level Pledging Event. The United States is planning a significant contribution, but it will take all donors working together to meet Yemen’s dire needs. We must address Yemen’s humanitarian crises now. Otherwise, the path to peace will narrow.

Fuel imports through Hudaydah ports were up in February. But unfortunately, due to actions by all the parties – including Houthi stockpiling, blockage of imports from southern Yemen, and manipulation of prices – Yemenis are still suffering from severe fuel shortages. A comprehensive solution is needed to address the fuel crisis facing Yemenis. We are encouraged by the March 5 signing of a memorandum of understanding to allow a vessel to temporarily store oil from the Safer oil tanker until a permanent solution is agreed. We urge all parties to abide by this agreement to prevent a humanitarian and environmental disaster. We thank the Netherlands for their work toward a solution and encourage donors to provide the necessary funding to implement this plan and forestall a tragic outcome.

Colleagues, the situation in Yemen remains dire. I sincerely hope – as we all do – that the Special Envoy’s efforts toward an inclusive peace process prove successful.

Thank you.