U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking Remarks
GCC Yemeni-Yemeni Dialogue Opening Session
March 30, 2022
As salamu alaykum. It’s an honor to be here and have the opportunity to meet with all of you, the Yemeni people, and your representatives, in-person. I want to thank His Excellency Dr. Nayef al Hajraf and the Gulf Cooperation Council for hosting this dialogue to provide a platform for Yemenis to work together toward peace and a bright future for Yemen. I would also like to thank excellencies, my fellow distinguished speakers, ladies and gentlemen, whose presence here demonstrates both regional and global commitment to ending the conflict in Yemen
Opportunities for inclusive dialogue among Yemenis are invaluable. More than seven years of war have deepened divisions and opened new fractures within Yemeni society. Creating opportunities for Yemenis to come together, to represent your diverse experiences and perspectives, and to identify solutions and reforms that can improve the lives of citizens is a formidable challenge, but an essential priority. Only through a wide range of fora and platforms – such as this one today – can Yemenis begin to build true dialogue.
The United States strongly supports the UN’s leadership in developing a more inclusive, more comprehensive peace process, particularly through the launch of consultations in Amman earlier this month. We have been energized to see broad support from diverse Yemeni groups – including many that are with us here today – participating in those consultations. Diverse Yemeni perspectives are needed, all Yemeni voices must be heard, to find durable solutions to the root causes of this conflict.
The United States also strongly supports the UN’s proposal for an immediate truce. This UN truce proposal could serve as a first step towards a comprehensive ceasefire and a new, more inclusive political process. In this regard, we welcome the restraint shown by the parties in the past few days, particularly the Coalition announcement regarding the cessation of military operations inside of Yemen during Ramadan. We encourage the parties to work with the UN to translate these pledges into a sustainable, coordinated opportunity for peace, for the sake of the Yemeni people.
We also know that the “Track I” Yemen peace process that the UN leads must be complemented by the “Track II” work of local, regional, and international institutions that feed back into the political process. After all, it is through strong, sovereign relations with its Gulf neighbors and through robust economic cooperation with the GCC that Yemen will not only recover, but prosper. I know the GCC is committed to helping Yemen throughout this process, and I again thank the GCC for its ongoing commitment to Yemen.
Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed and his government have undertaken significant efforts to improve services and economic stability, but we know that much more needs to be done. Looking out at you, Yemeni leaders and experts, I am confident that – working together, and with the support of the GCC – you can make real progress on steps that can strengthen governance, foster economic opportunity, not just for a few, but for all, and reduce corruption.
We cannot talk about the economic needs of Yemenis without addressing the immediate life-saving humanitarian assistance millions of Yemenis desperately need. I had the chance to visit Yemen again three weeks ago. We listened to Yemeni poetry and tasted sweet Yemeni honey. We also saw lots of great beauty, and felt the potential for what Yemen can be when the war stops. It’s heartbreaking to see the conditions there. Yet Yemenis across the country are desperate for relief. This requires support from the entire international community. Helping bring that immediate relief is a top priority for the U.S. Government.
Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced nearly $585 million in additional humanitarian assistance for Yemen – our single largest contribution to date. This brings our total humanitarian assistance since the beginning of the conflict to nearly $4.5 billion. It sounds like a lot, but it’s not enough. Unfortunately, as you all know, funding for the humanitarian response is at just 30 percent, forcing cuts to life-saving assistance for millions of Yemenis. We are disappointed and frustrated. We hope additional donors will step up soon to contribute generously, not just with economic support, but also with urgently needed humanitarian assistance. We do not want to see the Yemeni people let down, and we will continue to do our part to encourage donors to support the humanitarian response, for the sake of the people who bear the brunt of this conflict.
Humanitarian and diplomatic peace efforts must go hand in hand. For that reason, I am here today representing the United States to reiterate our commitment to the Yemeni people. We remain committed to helping UN-led efforts to advance a durable, inclusive resolution to the conflict. As we know this is what will bring true relief for Yemenis and durably end the humanitarian and economic crises in Yemen. But let’s not forget that at the end of the day, we, the United States, and the international community can only create that space for Yemenis. You, both those here today and those watching, must collectively determine your own future. With that, I wish you all productive conversations over the coming days. I look forward to hearing about your ideas for making Yemen a stronger, more peaceful, and more prosperous place. Shukran jazilaan.