While no easy answers exist in addressing Yemen’s complex, sprawling seven-year-long conflict, the appointment of a new Special Envoy offers an opportunity to take stock, reassess and re-engage the parties anew, delegates told the Security Council today amid concerns over continued clashes and an escalating economic crisis.

“I am under no illusions about the difficulty of the task handed to me by this Council,” said Hans Grundberg, the newly appointed Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, as he briefed the 15-member organ for the first time in that capacity.  Describing the vast destruction and suffering wrought by the conflict, as well as its ever-shifting epicentre, he said the focus since early 2020 has been the sustained offensive by Ansar Allah — also known as the Houthis — on Marib Governorate.  Thousands of Yemenis there have already lost their lives or been displaced.

Noting that fighting continues across the country, he said basic service delivery has declined and the economy continues to deteriorate dramatically.  Meanwhile, the conflict is spilling over Yemen’s borders, threatening regional security and international waterways.  Citing the targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, he said it is vital that external actors encourage de-escalation and support a Yemeni-led political settlement.  Sketching out his plans for a way forward, he stated his intention to assess past efforts, identify what has worked and what has not, and listen to as many Yemeni men and women as possible.  To that end, he detailed his initial plans to visit with regional leaders and the Houthi leadership in the coming weeks.

Ghada Eltahir Mudawi, Deputy Director of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, agreed that fighting in Marib has again become particularly fierce.  “As always, it is civilians who are paying the highest price,” she said.  Yemen’s economy is crumbling, its essential service delivery is disintegrating, and its people are being forced deeper into desperation.  Noting that Yemen is now home to the world’s largest humanitarian aid operation, she cited a recent surge in donor funding that provided more than $1.9 billion so far in 2021 — about 50 per cent of the total needs.  However, she warned that the threat of famine is not over in Yemen.  Keeping it at bay amid spiking inflation, rising food prices and a deadly third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic will require vigilance by the global community.

Also briefing the Council was Entesar Al-Qadhi, a representative of the Yemeni organization Marib Girls Foundation.  Recalling that the war in her country has already claimed more than 233,000 lives, she said the ongoing offensive in Marib is terrorizing civilians and disrupting humanitarian access.  Public services have collapsed, depriving people of clean water, sanitation and health care, and fostering a breeding ground for cholera and COVID-19.  Despite being disproportionately affected, women and girls remain excluded from representation in the Government and decision-making processes.  Welcoming the new Special Envoy to his role, she urged him to prioritize the interests, concerns and experiences of all Yemenis — not only those aligned with the conflict parties — and to consult regularly with a diverse range of civil society actors.

As Council members took the floor, many welcomed the Special Envoy to his new role and expressed their hope that his appointment will provide fresh impetus to the international efforts attempting to bring the Yemeni parties back to the negotiating table.  While many called for an immediate end to the fighting in Marib, several delegates spotlighted the escalating economic crisis — along with its potential to ignite broader food insecurity and crush Yemen’s health system amid a fresh wave of COVID-19 — as the greatest challenge now facing the country.

The representative of the United Kingdom joined others in welcoming Mr. Grundberg to his new role and describing the current juncture as an opportunity for the Yemeni parties to renew their cooperation with his office and to work with him without any preconditions.  Condemning reckless recent cross-border attacks by the Houthis and describing their indiscriminate nature as deeply worrying, she emphasized that preventing the risk of famine must remain a top priority for the United Nations and its partners, as inflation continues to reach new heights and render basic food items inaccessible.

Tunisia’s representative said the Special Envoy’s appointment sends a strong message from the international community to all parties to declare a comprehensive ceasefire and put the Yemeni people’s interests above all else.  Reiterating there is no alternative to a negotiated solution, he stated the doctrine of force must not be imposed, as it would further jeopardize the Yemeni people and propel the humanitarian crisis.  Calling on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and respect civilians, he deplored the repeated attacks on Saudi Arabia and expressed concern over Yemen’s worsening economic situation.

Mexico’s delegate, calling for a national ceasefire in Yemen and urging all the parties to exercise maximum restraint, called on the Houthi leadership to engage in dialogue facilitated by the Special Envoy without preconditions.  Noting with concern that recent efforts by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and cash injections by Saudi Arabia have not been sufficient to stop the rapid rise of inflation in Yemen, he also called on the Houthis to eliminate all bureaucratic restrictions on imported goods and allow unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance across the country.

The representative of the Russian Federation, noting that the international community stands united on the Yemen file, underscored the important mediation roles to be played by the United Nations and regional States.  Faltering in that process to date has led to an escalation of violence in Marib and air strikes on Saudi Arabia.  Noting that there is no alternative to negotiations that take into account the views of all parties, he echoed other speakers in voicing concern over Yemen’s dire economic situation and calling for the full lifting of all maritime and air blockades and removal of restrictions on distribution of food and fuel.

The representative of Yemen also addressed the Council, echoing members’ calls for an immediate end to the ongoing Houthi offensive in Marib and reiterating his Government’s willingness to cooperate with the new Special Envoy.  “However, the Houthi militias continue to insist on war, instead of peace,” he said, advocating for a stronger approach to dealing with a group that continues to attack civilians, commit sexual violence, recruit children, loot humanitarian aid and attack Saudi Arabia.  He also called upon the global community to lend support to his Government’s economy recovery plans, stressing that “there is no time to lose”.

Also speaking were the representatives of China, France, United States, Viet Nam, Kenya, Norway, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Estonia, India and Ireland.

The meeting began at 10:02 a.m. and ended at 11:52 p.m.

Briefings

HANS GRUNDBERG, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, briefing the Security Council for the first time since he took up his position four days ago, recalled that he began working in the country more than a decade ago.  That experience now makes him painfully aware of the complexities of the conflict, which are unfortunately only multiplying as fighting drags on.  “I am therefore under no illusions about the difficulty of the task handed to me by this Council,” he said.  Enabling a resumption of a peaceful, inclusive, orderly and Yemeni-led political transition process that meets the legitimate demands and aspirations of the country’s people, as mandated by the Council, will not be easy.  “There are no quick wins,” he said.

Describing the vast destruction and suffering wrought by the current conflict, he said the epicentre of the military confrontation has shifted over time, with combatants taking turns on the offensive.  Since early 2020, the focus has been on the sustained offensive by Ansar Allah — also known as the Houthis — on Marib Governorate, in which thousands of Yemenis have lost their lives or been displaced.  The port city of Hudaydah continues to experience a noticeable decline in ceasefire violations, while hostilities in the southern districts of the governorate are of particular concern.  The United Nations Mission to support the Hudaydah Agreement, or UNMHA, continues its vital work, including to urge the parties to come together through joint dialogue to define a sustained way forward.

Meanwhile, he said, the situation in the southern governorates — where there have been regular flare-ups of violence — is also deeply worrying.  Basic services and the economy have deteriorated dramatically, and the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement continues to face challenges.  Stressing that the impact of the conflict on the diverse range of grievances and demands in the southern governorates cannot be ignored, he said peace will not be sustained in the long term “if southern voices do not play a part in shaping it responsibly”.

He voiced additional concern that the conflict in Yemen is spilling over its borders, threatening regional security and international waterways, and especially about the targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure inside Saudi Arabia.  Calling for an immediate end to all the violence, he said it is vital that external actors also encourage de-escalation and support a Yemeni-led political settlement.  Warning that economic warfare is also sowing long-term devastation, he said Yemenis across the country live with severe limitations on their freedom of movement.  The United Nations position on that matter remains unchanged — the freedom of movement of people and goods in and out, as well as throughout the country, must be guaranteed.  Roads must be reopened, and Sana’a airport needs to open for commercial traffic.

“The United Nations approach to ending the conflict must be inclusive,” he continued.  Sketching out the way forward, he stated his intention to assess past efforts, identify what has worked and what has not, and listen to as many Yemeni men and women as possible.  The meaningful participation of women will be ensured in all aspects of his office’s engagement, with gender perspectives integrated across all issues.  Noting that different actors, offices and agencies all have a role of play, he said the start of his tenure is also a moment to reassess their respective responsibilities.  He will also launch early consultations with Yemeni, regional and international actors, with a trip to Saudi Arabia planned soon.  He also laid out plans to meet with Ansar Allah leadership and with other political actors throughout Yemen and its neighbouring countries.

GHADA ELTAHIR MUDAWI, Deputy Director of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, agreed that fighting in Marib has again become particularly fierce.  “As always, it is civilians who are paying the highest price,” she said, adding that Yemen’s economy is crumbling, its essential service delivery is disintegrating, and its people are being forced deeper into desperation.  Noting that Yemen is now home to the world’s largest humanitarian aid operation, she cited a recent surge in donor funding that has provided more than $1.9 billion so far in 2021 — about 50 per cent of the Humanitarian Response Plan’s total requirement.

“This support has enabled the United Nations and its partners to scale up lifesaving assistance across the country,” she said, noting that despite serious risks they managed to prevent famine in Yemen in the first eight months of 2021.  In June, the United Nations and its partners provided lifesaving assistance to 12.8 million people — 3.3 million more than they were able to reach the previous month.  While those achievements are significant, she warned that they are also fragile and uneven.  “The threat of famine is not over in Yemen,” she stressed, adding that keeping it at bay will continue to require steady and concerted efforts.  There are risks that vital water, sanitation and hygiene services will be shut down at a time when Yemen is grappling with multiple disease outbreaks and a deadly third wave of COVID-19 is putting the country’s population — and its fragile health-care system — at further risk.

Meanwhile, she said, protection is yet another sector that is currently facing critical funding shortages.  In the first six months of 2021, protection partners were only able to reach a fraction of their target population, despite extremely high needs across Yemen.  Spotlighting the severe challenges faced by women and children in particular, she added that Yemen is also home to the world’s fourth-largest internal displacement crisis.  The number of people fleeing their homes rises every day due to violence, flooding and other climate-related disasters.  Some of those displaced find refuge in schools, religious sites or abandoned buildings, while others are forced to take shelter in overcrowded settlements where few services are available.

Noting that those are just some of the perils facing Yemeni civilians — with others ranging from food insecurity to the real threat of landmines and other explosive devices — she urged all parties to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law and take care to spare civilians.  On 22 September, a side event on Yemen will take place in the margins of the General Assembly’s high-level debate, providing an opportunity to discuss protection challenges and galvanize support for the country’s most vulnerable.  She urged donors to continue to demonstrate their tremendous generosity by increasing their contributions to Yemen’s Humanitarian Response Plan, protecting the delicate gains made in recent months.  “This is not the moment to slow down, unless we are ready to see record humanitarian suffering come roaring back in Yemen,” she concluded.

ENTESAR AL-QADHI, of the civil society organization Marib Girls Foundation, said her group works to promote peace and women’s rights in Yemen.  “You hear a lot about the cruelty of war, but we live it on a daily basis,” she said, recalling that the war in Yemen has already claimed more than 233,000 lives.  Currently, the ongoing offensive in Marib is terrorizing civilians, disrupting humanitarian access and increasing the likelihood that fighting will open new fronts in neighbouring governorates.  Like many others in mourning, she herself recently lost two nephews, both younger than 15 years old, in an attack by Houthi forces.

“We are facing a humanitarian crisis in Marib that will only worsen unless there is a ceasefire,” she said, noting that some 200 families from Rahba district fled from their homes this week alone.  More than a quarter of Yemen’s displaced people, 80 per cent of whom are women and children, now live in Marib, and even in camps for internally displaced persons they risk death from drones and ballistic missiles every day.  Describing conditions in the camps as dire, she said their inhabitants are battered by winds, floods and heat without sufficient shelter. Public services in Marib have collapsed, depriving people of clean water, sanitation and health care, and fostering a breeding ground for cholera and COVID-19.

Adding that most displaced girls are forced to stay at home to support their families or cannot afford school fees, she said the Marib Girls Foundation works to address protection concerns and harmful social norms through workshops with community members and authorities.  It also supports women in creating new businesses, but their work is complicated by limited resources and the fact that people have to keep fleeing violence.  Meanwhile, women and girls — though disproportionately affected by the ongoing conflict — continue to be excluded from representation in the Government and decision-making processes.

Emphasizing that Yemeni women have played a critical role in the struggle for peace, she said they have negotiated directly with the conflict parties, acted as mediators, secured the release of prisoners and kept humanitarian corridors and critical roadways open.  “Yet we are not even consulted, never mind included, ensuring that our perspectives, contributions and concerns will continue to be ignored,” she said.  Across Yemen, there is pushback against women’s participation in public life, with the Houthis in the north having enshrined religious sectarianism in the educational curriculum and imposed segregation between sexes in public forums.  Meanwhile, the newly formed Government also excluded women, despite the 30 per cent quota required by the National Dialogue process.

Welcoming the new Special Envoy to his role, she urged him to use his mandate to prioritize the interests, concerns and experiences of all Yemenis, not only those of the conflict parties.  He also must consult regularly and transparently with civil society, especially diverse women’s groups, throughout the entirety of the peace process, and ensure that diverse women representatives directly participate in all steps — from shaping the agenda to drafting a ceasefire agreement and engaging in negotiations.  An immediate halt to the Houthi attacks on Marib is an economic, humanitarian and political necessity, and will only be achieved by the international community’s joint calls to end the offensive.

Against that backdrop, she outlined a range of priority actions, calling first for the adoption of a Marib ceasefire resolution “that neither side can take advantage of” and that will lead to the resumption of peace negotiations.  “It must be clear that failure to do so will result in the imposition of additional targeted measures,” she added.  Next, the Council should call for and support an inclusive peace process and ensure the full, equal and meaningful participation of diverse women, youth and civil society — of all political backgrounds from all regions of Yemen — in all diplomatic tracks and stages.  In addition, it should further call on the parties to allow full, unimpeded, sustained and secure humanitarian access; ask Member States to meet the $1.9 billion funding gap for the United Nations Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen; and call on countries to support women’s civil society organizations through the provision of core, flexible and long-term funding.

Statements

BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom), welcoming the new Special Envoy, said his appointment comes at a critical time for Yemen.  The current juncture is an opportunity for the Yemeni parties to renew their cooperation with his office and to work with him without any preconditions.  Condemning reckless recent cross-border attacks by the Houthis — facilitated by Iran — she said the indiscriminate nature of those actions is most worrying.  She also expressed concern about the situation in the south of Yemen, where the Riyad Agreement must urgently be implemented.  The Southern Transitional Council must facilitate the return of the entire Government back to Aden.  Meanwhile, preventing the risk of famine must remain a top priority for the United Nations and its partners, as inflation has recently reached new heights and rendered food and other basic items inaccessible.

GENG SHUANG (China), also expressing his delegation’s support for the newly appointed Special Envoy, condemned all violence against civilians and civilian infrastructure, including a recent attack by the Houthis against an airport in Saudi Arabia.  Voicing his expectation that the Special Envoy will soon engage directly with the parties and convince them to return to a path of dialogue, he added that further increasing humanitarian assistance is crucial.  As power plants shut down and fuel runs out, Yemen’s health sector faces a total collapse, all against the backdrop of a third wave of COVID-19.  He hoped that targeted humanitarian delivery will continue, while also welcoming the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s recent announcement of special drawing rights.  After years of conflict, there is a serious trust deficit between the parties.  The Special Envoy can use certain steps — such as exchanges of prisoners of war and on granting access to the moored Safer oil tanker — to build mutual trust and eventually help the parties reach a political solution, he said.

NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) noted that after seven years of conflict, there is no perspective on an exit from the crisis.  The military option leads nowhere, as the reality on the ground indicates daily, with clashes reinforcing the deadlock.  He called for a global ceasefire, reopening of Sana’a airport and Hudaydah port, and a political solution.  The Houthis must cease their unacceptable actions in Marib and against Saudi Arabian territory, he said, adding the “Houthi blackmail” over the Safer oil tanker is unacceptable, calling for the group to allow immediate inspection without preconditions.  Reasserting Yemen’s territorial integrity, he expressed concern over the situation in the south.  “The people pay the price” for the crisis, he stressed, with 70 per cent of Yemenis requiring humanitarian assistance, including four out of every five children.  The international community must step up to address the risk of large-scale famine, with the immediate lifting of all bureaucratic obstacles in the country, especially in Houthi areas.  Indiscriminate air strikes must also cease.

RICHARD M. MILLS, JR. (United States) noted the international consensus is clear that the violence must stop, with all parties engaging seriously with the Special Envoy without preconditions.  Sadly, the Houthis continue to undermine the situation, he said, citing the 29 August strike on the Al-Anad base that “bore all the earmarks” of a Houthi attack.  The Houthis further pursue a long, unnecessary and dangerous stalling on the Safer oil tanker, posing risks too grave and expansive to continue.  Expressing concern over a dire humanitarian situation including starvation, famine, and spread of disease including COVID-19, he said the United States has provided 151,000 does of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.  As it is also crucial to address underlying economic drivers, he noted IMF has provided $665 million in special drawing rights for the country.  While only a durable peace agreement can reverse the dire humanitarian crisis of 7 years of war, he expressed hope, as the Yemeni people want peace and other parties including the Houthis still have time to change their behaviour.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said United Nations mediation can reconcile the parties, and regional States can play a sizable role.  Noting the faltering progress has led to an escalation of violence on the frontlines, in Marib and in air strikes on Saudi Arabia, he stressed there is no alternative to negotiations that take into account all parties.  The international community is united on the Yemen file, he noted, requiring a long-term solution to the conflict.  Expressing concern over the dire economic situation, he called for the full lifting of all maritime and air blockades and removal of restrictions on distribution of food and fuel.  Also noting ongoing attacks on civilians, he urged all parties to observe humanitarian law.  The Security Council must “hold a balanced line on the situation”, he said, noting the Special Envoy can identify barriers to parties returning to the table.

ENRIQUE JAVIER OCHOA MARTÍNEZ (Mexico), calling for a national ceasefire in Yemen and urging all the parties to exercise maximum restraint, said that as the fighting continues the trust gap between them is only widening further.  He urged the Houthi leadership to engage in dialogue facilitated by the Special Envoy without preconditions.  Noting with concern that the IMF special drawing rights and the recent cash injections by Saudi Arabia have not been sufficient to stop the rapid rise of inflation in Yemen — which has once again posed the threat of famine — he called on the Houthis to eliminate all bureaucratic restrictions on imported goods and allow unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance across the country.  The funding currently available will only allow aid delivery for a few more months, he warned, while also voicing concern about a fresh wave of COVID-19 against the backdrop of a greatly diminished health sector.  In that context, he welcomed the United States announcement of a donation of 150,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses and called for more international support to follow.

DANG DINH QUY (Viet Nam) expressed concerns about the recent military escalations in a number of areas in Yemen, especially in Marib, which killed more than 200 people from all sides during the last two weeks.  Calling on all concerned parties to cease military operations, he stressed the importance of fully implementing the Stockholm Agreement and the Riyadh Agreement.  He went on to point out the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen, related to conflicts, lack of services, COVID-19, and rising food prices.  Despite the recent funding for the work of the World Food Programme (WFP) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), millions of people, including women and girls, still lack food.  More than 2 million children cannot go to school and are at heightened risks of child labour and other forms of exploitation, and around 6.1 million women require protection services.  Underscoring the urgent need for additional financial contributions and safe, unhindered passage for humanitarian workers, he reiterated his call to remove import restrictions through the port of Hudaydah and make progress on the Safer oil tanker issue.

MICHAEL KIBOINO (Kenya) expressed disappointment at the lack of political progress, stressing that there are no military solutions to the conflict in Yemen.  Deeply worried by the escalation of fighting during the last two weeks, particularly in Marib, and the recent drone attack on the Al-Anad airbase, he warned against the risk of terrorist groups to thrive and expand, due to the chaos along the front lines.  Welcoming a move by international financial institutions to inject foreign reserves into Yemen, he called on parties to break the stalemate and work towards a nationwide ceasefire.  Pointing to the risk of famine, he commended the increased funding for the humanitarian response plan and stressed the need for an increased supply of COVID-19 vaccines as the third wave of the pandemic rages the country.

MONA JUUL (Norway) said that there is an urgent need for military de-escalation, particularly in Marib, while also expressing concern over the deteriorating security situation in the south of Yemen and cross-border attacks into Saudi Arabia.  She further pointed out the essential need to move the peace process ahead, with the full, equal, meaningful participation and leadership of Yemeni women.  She went on to emphasize the urgent need to reverse the current humanitarian crisis, calling for lifting the restrictions on food and fuel through Hudaydah port, and expressed concern over reports of increased bureaucratic impediments inside Yemen.  Pointing to reported human rights violations and abuses, including conflict-related sexual violence, she insisted that perpetrators must be held accountable.  Citing a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report that 2,500 schools in Yemen have been damaged or used for military purposes, and around 8.1 million children need emergency education assistance, she urged for protecting schools and universities from military use during armed conflict, as per the Safe Schools Declaration.

NIANDOU AOUGI (Niger), expressing concern over recent events in Yemen as well as attacks in Saudi Arabia, called on the Houthis and all parties to the conflict to take responsibility for ending the fighting.  Among other top priorities, they should engage urgently and constructively with the new Special Envoy.  All global and regional actors with influence over the parties, including Council members, should exercise their leverage with an eye towards ending the fighting.  Meanwhile, he urged donor countries — especially those in the region — to continue to demonstrate their generosity against the backdrop of Yemen’s dire humanitarian situation.  He expressed his delegation’s support for all initiatives aimed at resuming dialogue and leading to the return of peace to the country.

ISIS AZALEA MARIA GONSALVES (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) called for an immediate ceasefire among the parties involved, noting that the recent interception of three missiles launched into Saudi Arabia from Ansar Allah in Yemen underscores that urgent necessity.  She likewise condemned air strikes and indiscriminate shelling of civilians, “which has characterized this war”.  The impact of the protracted conflict is evident in the collapse of institutions and fragmentation of the social fabric, the brunt borne primarily by those most vulnerable:  women and children.  Hostilities and displacement threaten millions of people, she stressed, as fighting on many frontlines continues to destabilize an already fragile situation.  As the overall humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate, there is an urgent need for unhindered passage of humanitarian aid, especially as the country faces a third wave of the pandemic and an active rainy season.  Calling on the international community to increase its support for the Humanitarian Response Plan, she nonetheless stressed that “humanitarian aid is merely palliative”, with the only viable solution an inclusive Yemeni-led, Yemeni-owned political plan reflecting the complexities on the ground and addressing the root causes of the conflict.  She urged the Special Envoy to work with women groups and leaders and for the Council to continue inviting women briefers.  She further cited the dilapidated condition of the Safer tanker, increasing the risk of a disaster which can irreparably damage the environment and livelihoods of many in the Red Sea Region, encouraging the parties to undertake confidence-building measures that can lead to a pragmatic solution.

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia) expressed deep concern over the recent increase in military activity in Yemen, especially in Marib.  Civilians and civilian infrastructure have also been targeted in Houthi attacks against Saudi Arabia, including Abha International Airport.  Urging all parties to refrain from indiscriminate attacks against civilian objects, he also called upon the Government of Yemen and the Southern Transitional Council to resume the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement.  He went on to address the increase in food prices and exacerbating food insecurity due to the absence of a long-term agreement on the import of fuel and commercial supplies through Hudaydah port.  As a result of the worsening socioeconomic conditions, children are forced into early marriage or recruited, he continued.  Citing a recent report by the United Nations Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen, which states that parties to the conflict have committed sexual and gender-based violence and have engaged in enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention and torture, he called for greater attention to the vulnerability of women and children.

ALI CHERIF (Tunisia) said the appointment of the Special Envoy represents a strong message from the international community to all parties to declare a comprehensive ceasefire and put the Yemeni people’s interests above all.  Reiterating that there is no alternative to a negotiated solution, he stated the doctrine of force must not be imposed, as it would further jeopardize the Yemeni people and propel the humanitarian crisis.  Calling on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and respect civilians, he deplored the repeated attacks on Saudi Arabia.  He expressed concern over the worsening economic situation and delay in relief and humanitarian operations, with 80 per cent of the population needing humanitarian assistance, 20 million suffering food insecurity, and health services collapsing.  Citing a report by UNICEF that a Yemeni child dies every 10 minutes for preventable reasons, he called upon all parties to respect their rights.

T. S. TIRUMURTI (India) noted that after 7 years of conflict, the Yemeni situation remains precarious, with the intensification of fighting between the Government and Ansar-Allah and the deterioration of conditions in Aden and the southern governorates.  He called for the resumption of the dialogue facilitated by the Government of Saudi Arabia, with all parties renouncing military actions, citing cross-border missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia which threaten the region and deliberate targeting of civilians and infrastructure.  Three Indians were among eight civilians injured in an attack on Abha International Airport recently, a flagrant violation of international law, and the chaotic security situation may provide fresh impetus to terrorist groups like Al-Qaida.  Expressing concern over the unprecedented humanitarian crisis, he noted nearly 50 per cent of funding for the humanitarian response plan remains unmet, potentially forcing agencies to scale or shut down programmes from this month, including in sanitation and health sectors, threatening the welfare of millions of Yemenis.

GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland), Council President for the month, speaking in her national capacity, stressed that the fighting in Yemen must end now.  The Houthi offensive on Marib is unacceptable, she said.  Cross-border attacks on civilian infrastructure in Saudi Arabia must end, and there must be a national ceasefire.  She underscored the humanitarian consequences of the protracted conflict, including famine, inadequate passage of fuel through Yemen’s Red Sea ports, irregular salary payments for civil servants and unaffordable food prices, and called for an adequate flow of fuel and commodities.  Expressing concern about Yemeni women’s exclusion from the political process, she emphasized that women are working to build peace, and that all the country’s people deserve a chance to play a substantial part in shaping their future.  Concluding, she called for the full respect of human rights and accountability for human right abuses, including conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence.

ABDULLAH ALI FADHEL AL-SAADI (Yemen), calling for an immediate end to the ongoing Houthi offensive in Marib, expressed his Government’s willingness to cooperate with the new Special Envoy and voiced support for his efforts to end the suffering of his country’s people.  “There is no time to lose,” he stressed, outlining Yemen’s efforts to achieve a lasting peace in line with the initiative of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference, resolution 2216 (2015) and other relevant Council resolutions.  The Government has always supported the United Nations and international efforts to those ends.  “However, the Houthi militias continue to insist on war, instead of peace,” he said, advocating for a stronger approach to dealing with that group.

Among a range of crimes committed by the Houthis, he listed attacks on civilians, sexual violence, arbitrary detention, the recruitment of children and several attacks on civilian facilities in Saudi Arabia.  The group continues to escalate its operations under the instructions of its Iranian backers.  Recalling that a bombing by the Houthis in Marib displaced more than 500 families last week, he said the group also continues to divert and loot humanitarian aid.  Against that backdrop, he urged the Council to put more pressure on the Houthis to end their interference in humanitarian work and called upon the global community to lend generous support to the Government’s economic recovery plans.  Meanwhile, the condition of the Safer oil tanker moored in the Red Sea poses a major threat to the lives and livelihoods of people across the region.  It is unacceptable that the Houthis continue to blackmail the international community, using the issue as leverage and preventing United Nations experts from averting an environmental disaster.

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