Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, during the Security Council Briefing on Yemen, 20 August 2019

Mr President,

We thank the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, Mr Martin Griffiths, and the Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Ms Ursula Mueller for their briefings. South Africa wishes to express our support for the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, Mr Martin Griffiths and congratulate him on all the efforts he is undertaking to find a peaceful solution to the situation in Yemen.

My delegation would like to address the following two points in our intervention today, namely: (i) the Political situation, and (ii) the humanitarian situation.

Firstly, one the Political situation, We continue to urge all parties involved in the war in Yemen to cease hostilities and fully implement 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. We welcome any positive steps taken by the parties to the conflicts so far, which helps de-escalate tensions. South Africa is firm in the belief that in order to ensure a long-term solution to the crisis in Yemen, it is necessary for all parties to commit to a political process. We continue to support a negotiated political settlement that engages all parties in an inclusive Yemeni-led dialogue to resolve differences and address the legitimate concerns of all Yemenis, in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions. The recent developments in Southern Yemen are deeply concerning and we wish to encourage the regional role-players to continue the process of seeking a solution to this new development that will support the UN-mediated process and Stockholm Agreements. We are encouraged by positive developments in the region to increase cooperation and work towards achieving this goal. We further call on the countries of the region to prioritise dialogue to address any political differences that might exist.

Secondly, On the Humanitarian situation South Africa remains extremely concerned at the serious humanitarian crisis in Yemen. To date, over 15m people (over half the population of Yemen) are facing starvation; 1.1m people are affected by cholera and 3m people have been forced to flee (UNHCR). Vulnerable groups, specifically women and children most often face the severe consequences of war, and this is no different in Yemen.  This unprecedented humanitarian crisis is a strong indicator of the human toll of continued military action and conflict in Yemen, which necessitates an urgent commitment to a ceasefire and pursuit of a negotiated, peaceful and inclusive solution to the crisis. South Africa also calls on all parties to abide by their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law.  We welcome the full reopening of the World Food Programme’s aid distribution after a partially closure in June 2019. We remain hopeful that this critical aid channel will remain open and free of misuse.

Mr President,

The continued violence conducted by all parties to this conflict is not conducive to peace building measures. To enable the above, South Africa calls on all parties to de-escalate the fighting in other parts of the country and commit to a general ceasefire to enable dialogue and inclusive peaceful negotiations.

In conclusion, Mr President We wish to reiterate that the only sustainable solution to this conflict will be a negotiated, Yemeni-led political settlement that is inclusive and fair and puts the interests and wellbeing of all the citizens of Yemen first.

I thank you.


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