Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, during the Security Council Briefing on Yemen, 17 June 2019

Mr President,

We thank the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, Mr Martin Griffiths, and the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mr Mark Lowcock and the Executive Director of the World Food Programme Mr David Beasley for their briefings.

We wish to express our full support for the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, Mr Martin Griffiths and commend him on all the efforts he is undertaking to find a peaceful solution to the situation in Yemen. We further urge all parties involved in the war in Yemen to cease hostilities. Progress on the political process is hampered by continued fighting, which is not conducive to building trust as the first step in creating a negotiated settlement.

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.

Firstly, on the Stockholm agreement, We believe in order to achieve sustainable peace in Yemen, differences amongst the parties cannot be solved militarily and will only be further aggravated by military activities. In this regard, we call on all sides to carry out their respective obligations as per their undertakings in the Stockholm Agreement. Implementation of this agreement is of paramount importance as it would assist in building confidence among the parties and improve the chances of reaching a broader political agreement. It is vital that both sides withdraw their forces from Hodeidah to enforce the Stockholm agreement. Steps that have already been taken in this regard are encouraging, which includes the redeployments that were carried out between 11 and 14 May.

Secondly, On the Humanitarian situation 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. It also addresses the need for all parties to the conflict to comply with applicable international law and to fulfil their obligations under international humanitarian law including to respect and protect medical facilities and personnel and to allow and facilitate safe, rapid and unhindered access for humanitarian and medical personnel to all those in need.  To assist in alleviating the humanitarian plight of the Yemini people it would be important for the international community to pledge adequate funding for the United Nation’s Yemen humanitarian response programme.

South Africa wishes to reiterate that it is critical that the UN Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA) is fully capacitated and its mandate is conducted swiftly. We also note with concern that many Yemeni’s do not receive the aid that they so desperately need, as it remains very difficult for aid organisations and actors to get permission to provide humanitarian assistance in some areas.

Thirdly, on the impact of the conflict on women and children, We note with regret the escalation of violence in the past few weeks, which is imperilling the Stockholm agreement. We continue to call on all the parties to refrain from excessive use of force in civilian areas and to spare the lives of women and children. Recent reports paint a bleak picture of the humanitarian situation in the country. The rate of deaths and injuries caused by land mines has doubled, with the average number of civilians wounded and being killed each day rising by a third, with more than 500 people killed.

This Council must support Yemen to ensure that it is safe to inhabit again when the conflict is resolved. Statistics from the UN High Commission for Refugees indicate that Yemen is one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in the world with 3 million people having been forced to flee their homes because of increased violence in the country – and more than 22 million vulnerable Yemenis are in immediate need of humanitarian assistance.

These include women and children who are mostly affected by the conflict. We call on the parties to sign and implement  a time-bound action plan to end and prevent grave violations, pursuant to Resolution 1460 (2003), as the formal and only path for delisting from the annexes of the SG’s annual report on children and armed conflict. Furthermore, we encourage the Secretary General to list all parties on the basis of credible and UN-verified patterns of violations in Section A of the annexes of his annual report for all relevant violations.

In conclusion, Mr President South Africa continues to call for the cessation of hostilities and de-escalation of tensions which will bring lasting peace and stability to Yemen and the broader region.

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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