Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
Thank you, Madam President. Thank you, Special Envoy Grundberg and Assistant Secretary-General Msuya, for your briefings and continued efforts. We are also grateful to you, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Gressly, for your updates and your perseverance in addressing the Safer oil tanker, together with the UN Development Program.
While much more needs to be done, this is truly good news. The Safer operation represents a model for international cooperation on Yemen. Together, we are making true progress towards averting environmental, humanitarian, and economic catastrophes that would exacerbate the already dire humanitarian conditions in Yemen, and would have widespread consequences in the region and beyond.
We must maintain momentum and secure – as Mr. Gressly requested – the additional $25 million needed to complete both phases of the Safer operation. And we encourage private sector donors to support the UN’s plan to avoid a catastrophe.
At the same time, we must balance efforts like the Safer operation with the need to continue providing life-saving humanitarian assistance. The UN’s humanitarian response in Yemen remains dangerously underfunded. And cuts to assistance would have dire consequences for Yemenis at a time when famine conditions are poised to re-emerge. We urge bilateral donors, especially in the region, to fund the humanitarian response.
Colleagues, the United States welcomes the renewal of UNMHA’s mandate for an additional 12 months. And I want to stress that the mission must be afforded the freedom of movement to carry out its vital work. We welcome UNMHA’s investments in women, peace, and security, which are essential to addressing all aspects of conflict in Yemen.
It has been 16 months since the UN-brokered truce in Yemen began. And while we are heartened by efforts to bring relief to Yemenis, including the expansion of flights from Sana’a airport, we know these measures are insufficient. And we know many Yemenis are not yet feeling that relief.
In fact, some Yemenis are suffering from continued – and even increased – restrictions on the flow of goods, including Houthi impediments to the sale of cooking gas, and to the movement of other goods from southern Yemen to the North. The Houthis also continue to block oil exports, further exacerbating Yemen’s humanitarian and economic crisis.
Yemenis are rightfully anxious to see progress on peace efforts. Progress will require the Yemeni parties to come together to negotiate complex issues, like the use of Yemen’s sovereign resources to pay public salaries. We urge the parties to cooperate with the UN Special Envoy and to meaningfully participate in future Yemeni-Yemeni talks.
The United States continues to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all of our locally employed UN Embassy* staff who have been detained in Sana’a for over 18 months. The international community is united on this issue, and the Houthis must allow these innocent Yemenis to reunite with their families.
We also call on the Houthis to immediately and unconditionally release the 13 Yemeni Baha’is held in Sana’a since last month. We are especially concerned about Ahmad al-Malahi, who requires urgent medical treatment.
Finally, we call on the Houthis to immediately and unconditionally release Levi Marhabi, one of the few remaining members of Yemen’s Jewish community. All Yemenis should have the ability practice their religion without fear, and we continue to speak out against religious persecution in Yemen.
Colleagues, we must continue to do everything in our power to end this war and the violence that has plagued Yemen for the last eight years. And we must do this with urgency.
Thank you, Madam President.