Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, during the Security Council Briefing on Yemen, 18 February 2020

Mr President,

We thank the Special Envoy Martin Griffiths (VTC), USG Lowcock (OCHA) and Ambassador King as Chair of the Yemen sanctions committee for their briefings. South Africa continues to reiterate our support for the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, Mr Martin Griffiths and for all his efforts to find a peaceful solution to the situation in Yemen. South Africa thanks the Panel of Experts for their comprehensive report covering 2019.

My delegation would like to reiterate that a causal nexus exists between the political impasse, the dire humanitarian situation, and the security situation; as such our intervention focuses on these 3 elements.

Mr President,

On the political element, South Africa impresses upon the parties to commit to a political process that can only be achieved through dialogue. There has been no further implementation on the Riyadh Agreement, South Africa wishes to reiterate its call for the implementation of this vital Agreement between the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) as well as the full implementation of the December 2018 Stockholm Agreement.

On the humanitarian element, South Africa commends the work of the UNHCR in Yemen for the commencement of the air bridge medical evacuation between Sana’a and Amman. This agreement was done in collaboration with all of the parties to the conflict and highlights that progress can be made when the political will is strong. It is comforting to note that the WHO spokeswoman indicated that the organization was covering the costs of the victim’s medical treatment, transport and accommodation.

However, equally of importance to note are the restrictions of humanitarian operations in the North which continues to cause much frustration to deliver aid in a reliable fashion, furthermore, threatening to suspend aid altogether. We call on the parties to the conflict to allow free, regular and unimpeded passage of food and other humanitarian relief and not to take actions that would deprive civilians of their rights to food and health. In this regard we remind the parties to the conflict that all necessary measures should be taken to respect the Geneva Conventions.

Mr President,

On the security element, South Africa is dismayed that after much political traction and relative calm, the recent escalation of fighting in Yemen has effectively reset the conflict resolution process. The number of fatalities continue to rise as the level of violence and conflict escalate in Nihm, Marib and Al Jawf. In this regard, South Africa calls on the parties to observe the ceasefire in Hodeidah and to contribute towards a nation-wide cessation of hostilities. A cessation of hostilities in Yemen, or even parts of Yemen, would greatly assist the negotiation process towards a political solution for Yemen.

In conclusion, Mr President,

This unprecedented humanitarian crisis necessitates an urgent commitment to a ceasefire and the pursuit of a negotiated, peaceful and inclusive solution to the crisis.

We wish to reiterate that the only sustainable solution to this conflict is a 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.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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