Statement Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, during the Security Council Meeting on Yemen, New York, 15 May 2019
Thank you for convening this meeting on Yemen. We thank the Special Envoy Martin Griffiths, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore and the chair of the 2140 Sanctions Committee Ambassador Gustavo Meza-Cuadra of Peru, for their briefings.
My delegation would like to address the following three points in our intervention today, namely: (i) the implementation of the Stockholm agreement, (ii) the humanitarian situation and (iii) the impact of the conflict on women and particularly children in Yemen.
South Africa reiterates the call for all parties to implement the Hodeidah Agreement timeously and to resolve the current differences of interpretation of text within the agreement – specifically in reference to “local security force” in and surrounding the city of Hodeidah. We welcome the latest redeployment by the parties from the three ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras-Issa. The decision by both parties to withdraw from Hodeidah to allow in vital humanitarian aid is a positive step and should be commended. We further call for the finalization of the redeployment process and for a nation-wide cessation of hostilities. We also encourage the parties to work with the International Committee of the Red Cross in the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement in order to return security and stability to Yemen.
We also note with concern that many Yemeni people do not receive the aid that they so desperately need as it remains very difficult for aid organizations and actors to get permission to provide humanitarian assistance in some areas. South Africa calls for the full implementation of Resolution 2451 which deals with the need for the unhindered flow of humanitarian supplies and humanitarian personnel into and across the country and the need for all parties to the conflict to comply with applicable international law and to fulfill their obligations under international humanitarian law including to respect and protect medical facilities and personnel and to allow and facilitate the safe, rapid and unhindered access for humanitarian and medical personnel to all those in need.
South Africa calls on the international community to pledge adequate funding for the United Nation’s Yemen humanitarian response programme. We also call on the pledges made in Geneva to be disbursed and for humanitarian assistance to reach all those affected by the conflict. Regrettably we note the reports by the panel of experts that there has been some attempt by some parties to use social media to divert humanitarian assistance. We strongly condemn this and call on those engaging on this to desist from such activities.
The panel of experts also reported continued violence directed at women. South Africa strongly condemns this and calls on those committing such atrocious violations on women and children to be held accountable. The conflict is already taking an enormous toll on women and children, as they continue to pay the highest sacrifice. Furthermore, we call on parties to engage with the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict in negotiating, signing and implementing an action plan to end and prevent violations of children rights.
In conclusion, South Africa also urges all countries and groups involved in the conflict in Yemen to cease hostilities. The conflict in Yemen cannot be solved militarily and will only be further exacerbated through each day of this continued avoidable war. The current talks are hampered by continued fighting, which is not conducive to trust building as the first step in creating a negotiated settlement. If the status quo remains the international community would have failed the people of Yemen.
I thank you
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