Failure in Delivering Aid for Yemenis 'the Worst International Response to a Humanitarian Crisis', Civil Society Briefer Tells Security Council
- Oct 14, 2021
14 OCTOBER 2021
8878TH MEETING (AM)
Government Ready to Cooperate, but Houthis Continue Futile War, Country Representative Says, Calling for Urgent Life-Saving Action
During a briefing today in which senior United Nations officials detailed the recent intensified conflict and the deepening humanitarian crisis situation in Yemen, a speaker from an independent think tank told the Security Council that international organizations have failed to ensure aid reaches Yemenis in need, describing this dereliction as "the worst international response" to a humanitarian crisis in the world.
Maysaa Shuja al-Deen, Fellow at Sana'a Center for Strategic Studies, spotlighted the unprecedented escalation of military operations in the Marib Governorate, reporting that as battles move closer to oil and gas fields, the war may expand to other areas in Yemen and undermine the already limited opportunities for peace.
Since the war began seven years ago, it has become normal to describe the situation as "the largest humanitarian crisis in the world," she said, stressing that it is also "the worst international response" to a humanitarian crisis. She detailed massive imbalances in the relief process, pointing out that most of the Yemeni population is under the control of armed Houthis, who seize humanitarian aid before it reaches those for which it is intended. Further, weak Government institutions and bureaucratic obstructions impede the travel and movement of relief workers. Relief operations must be reassessed and held accountable to ensure that aid is not wasted.
Outlining several practical steps, she urged the Council to address the crisis, including through establishing and funding a coordinating mechanism for the delivery of humanitarian aid; alleviating the financial isolation of Yemeni banks; ensuring delivery of COVID‑19 vaccines to all parts of the country; and stopping the supply of weapons to warring parties. "At the end of the day, the best relief for Yemenis is ending the war," she declared.
Also briefing the Council were Hans Grundberg, Special Envoy of the Secretary‑General for Yemen, and Ramesh Rajasingham, Acting Assistant Secretary‑General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Mr. Grundberg said that since his last briefing in September, he has conducted numerous consultations with Yemeni, regional and international actors, focusing on the question of how to move towards a sustainable political solution to end the conflict. Yemenis, without exception, stressed the necessity to end the war, he reported, noting that they also highlighted the urgency of addressing economic and humanitarian concerns, including stabilizing the economy, improving the delivery of basic services and facilitating freedom of movement.
Yemenis also acknowledged that their country cannot be effectively ruled by one group alone and that a durable peace will require pluralism, he added, underscoring the need for a comprehensive negotiated political settlement that should restore the functioning of State institutions and pave the way for economic recovery and development. It should also provide for accountable governance and the rule of law and promote and protect Yemenis' full range of human rights. "Let us not fool ourselves, this will be a laborious and complicated task that will take time, but it must take place," he stated.
Mr. Rajasingham said the humanitarian crisis continues to deepen, leaving more than two thirds of the population -- 20 million people -- in need of assistance from aid agencies. The immediate cause of this suffering is the war, he said, adding that the conflict has intensified in recent weeks and that a ceasefire remains elusive.
Funding for aid efforts is not adequate to continue to meet the needs of the almost 13 million people across the country who depend on it. Warning that funding for water delivery and hospitals will run out by the end of November and that aid for food, health, and water, sanitation and hygiene programmes have only received a fraction of the required funding, he called for continued support.
Council members were united in their support for the Special Envoy's mediation efforts and called for all parties to the conflict and the international community to put the plight of the Yemenis first and foremost.
The representative of the United Kingdom, stressing that Mr. Grundberg's engagement with a broad range of actors has laid an important foundation for a revived peace process, underscored that, after six years of war, the people of Yemen are still suffering from the world's worst man‑made humanitarian crisis. Support to the humanitarian response is vital, she stressed.
Kenya's representative, Council President for October, speaking in his national capacity, said that the Special Envoy's efforts will be futile unless the Yemenis themselves recommit to a negotiated political solution. The parties should remember that their own vulnerable children, youth, women and the elderly bear the brunt of this destructive civil war, he said, noting that the Council should seriously consider the proposals by the civil society briefer of establishing a coordination mechanism for the delivery of humanitarian aid.
Several delegates expressed serious concern regarding the prevalence of human rights violations in Yemen, voicing disappointment over the failure of the Human Rights Council to renew the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts ‑ a mechanism established in 2017 to monitor and report on the human rights situation in the country.
Estonia's representative said that the Group, during the past four years, has done extremely important work on monitoring the human rights situation in Yemen. It is in the interest of the people of Yemen that accountability for human rights violations and abuses is ensured, he added.
The representative of Mexico also expressed regret over the Human Rights Council's failure to renew the Group's mandate. Accountability is the only way to achieve genuine social reconciliation, he emphasized.
Ireland's representative, also noting her disappointment at the Group's mandate not being renewed, drew attention to the fact that the Group was the only independent, international and impartial mechanism monitoring the dire human rights situation in Yemen.
The representative of Yemen expressed hope that the Special Envoy's efforts will contribute to ending the crisis. However, he underscored that while the Government is ready to cooperate, the Houthis have continued their futile war, killing women and children with drones, snipers and mines. Houthi militias persist in carrying out terrorist attacks against civilians, who face hunger, disease and death. Meanwhile, the international community remains shamefully silent, he pointed out, calling on the Security Council to take urgent action to lift the blockade in the Al Abdiyah district of Marib and save the lives of women, children and the injured.
Also speaking today were representatives of the Russian Federation, China, Tunisia, Viet Nam, India, United States, Niger, France, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Norway.
The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at 11:58 a.m.
HANS GRUNDBERG, Special Envoy of the Secretary‑General for Yemen, said that since his last briefing, he has conducted numerous consultations with Yemeni, regional and international actors, focusing on the question of how to move towards a sustainable political solution to end the conflict. Yemenis, without exception, stressed the necessity to end the war. They also highlighted the urgency of addressing economic and humanitarian concerns, including stabilizing the economy, improving the delivery of basic services and facilitating freedom of movement. Yemenis also acknowledged that their country cannot be effectively ruled by one group alone and that a durable peace will require pluralism.
The gap in trust between warring parties is wide and growing, he warned, noting that during his meetings with the Government of Yemen in Riyadh and Aden, and with Ansar Allah, or the Houthis in Muscat, the issue of sequencing of possible interim steps remained a preoccupation that overshadowed the need to start discussing the parameters for an overall political settlement of the conflict. While interim progress should be made on urgent humanitarian and economic matters, a durable solution can only be achieved through a comprehensive negotiated political settlement. There should be no preconditions for these urgent political talks and humanitarian measures should not be used as political leverage.
The conflict continues to leave a tragic and widespread legacy of human rights violations, he reported, expressing regret that the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts [a mechanism established by the Human Rights Council to monitor the human rights situation in the country] was not renewed. Nevertheless, the United Nations will continue to press for accountability in Yemen. Turning to the situation in Hudaydah, he said the United Nations Mission to support the Hudaydah Agreement (UNMHA) continues its tireless efforts to engage the parties in order to reactivate the work of the Redeployment Coordination Committee. Noting that General Abhijit Guha completed his tenure as Head of UNMHA at the beginning of this month, he expressed his appreciation for his work.
Looking forward, he underscored that a comprehensive negotiated political settlement is needed to end the violence once and for all. It should restore the functioning of State institutions and pave the way for economic recovery and development. It should provide for accountable governance, justice and accountability and the rule of law. It should also promote and protect Yemenis' full range of human rights. Underlining his determination to continue consultations with Yemenis and others towards an inclusive political settlement, he emphasized: "Let us not fool ourselves, this will be a laborious and complicated task that will take time, but it must take place." His aim is to forge agreement on a way forward, he stated, adding that such an agreement will require support from Security Council members, regional States and the broader international community.
RAMESH RAJASINGHAM, Acting Assistant Secretary‑General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, briefed the Council on the dire situation in Yemen, where the humanitarian crisis continues to deepen, leaving more than two thirds of the population -- 20 million people -- in need of assistance from aid agencies. The immediate cause of this suffering is the war, he said, adding that the conflict has intensified in recent weeks and that a ceasefire remains elusive. Further, Yemen's collapsing economy, also a consequence of the war, in indirect and direct ways, has left millions destitute. Yet, as these Yemenis turn to aid groups for help, these aid groups are once again starting to run out of money, he warned.
Noting that the conflict is growing more violent -- not less - he outlined regions where instability and violence are breaking out, including in Marib, where Houthi forces have intensified their offensive and seized more territory; in Aden, where clashes between rival armed groups shut down parts of the city; and continued fighting, shelling and air strikes in Sa'ada, Hajjah, Hudaydah, and almost 50 other front lines. These clashes have a grim impact on civilians. In September, the violence killed or injured 235 civilians across the country. "That's almost eight people every day -- the second‑highest figure in two years," he pointed out. He expressed particular concern about the heavy civilian toll in Marib, where the fighting displaced almost 10,000 last month -- the single highest figure so far this year. The city has also experienced shocking mass casualty events, including a missile attack on 3 October, attributed to Houthi forces, which killed three children and injured 21 other civilians.
He also voiced his grave concern over the pervasive human rights violations fuelled by the conflict, including the execution last month of nine people by Houthi authorities in Sana'a in apparent contravention of due process standards under international law. Calling for effective accountability for such serious violations, he noted his regret that the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts was not renewed last week. Turning to the economic collapse, which risked leading to famine, he stressed that immediate steps would have a quick and transformative impact, including foreign exchange injections, paying civil servants' salaries and removing barriers to business. However, funding for aid efforts is not adequate to continue to meet the needs of the almost 13 million people across the country who depend on it. Warning that funding for water delivery and hospitals will run out by the end of November and that aid for food, health, and water, sanitation and hygiene programmes have only received a fraction of the required funding, he called for continued support. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs will publish a nationwide needs assessment response plan for 2022 in the coming months, he said, before echoing the Special Envoy's call for a political solution to end the war.
MAYSAA SHUJA AL-DEEN, Fellow, Sana'a Center for Strategic Studies, spotlighted the unprecedented escalation of military operations in the Marib Governorate. Home to 2 million people -- most of whom are displaced -- it also supplies the entire country with much of its energy. As battles move closer to oil and gas fields, the war may expand to other areas in Yemen and undermine the already limited opportunities for peace. Against this backdrop, she stressed that the international community must act urgently to stop the fighting. Since the war began seven years ago, it has become normal to describe the situation in Yemen as "the largest humanitarian crisis in the world". However, she stressed that it is not only the worst humanitarian crisis in the world -- it is also the worst international response to a humanitarian crisis in the world.
Detailing massive imbalances in the relief process, she pointed out that most of the Yemeni population is under the control of armed Houthis, who seize humanitarian aid before it reaches those for which it is intended. Further, weak Government institutions and bureaucratic obstructions impede the travel and movement of relief workers. In short, international organizations have failed to ensure that aid reaches Yemenis in need; relief operations must be reassessed and held accountable to ensure that aid is not wasted.
Turning to the economic crisis, she pointed out that Yemenis living abroad provide the first and usually only source of income for the population following the cessation of oil and gas exports. Underscoring that all Gulf States are either directly or indirectly involved in the war in Yemen, she said that such States have the moral responsibility to -- at the very least -- open their doors to Yemeni workers. She detailed several practical steps the Council could take to address the crisis in Yemen, including establishing and funding a coordinating mechanism for the delivery of humanitarian aid; alleviating the financial isolation of Yemeni banks; ensuring delivery of COVID‑19 vaccines to all parts of the country; and stopping the supply of weapons to warring parties.
She also suggested that the Council pressure the Houthis -- particularly through their allies in Tehran and their friends in Moscow -- to end military operations in Marib and their sieges on various cities and residential areas. "At the end of the day, the best relief for Yemenis is ending the war," she stated.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) said the Special Envoy's engagement with a broad range of actors has laid an important foundation for a revived peace process. She expressed her country's support for him and for mobilizing international support behind the United Nations‑led approach. After six years of war, the people of Yemen are still suffering from the world's worst man‑made humanitarian crisis. Support to the humanitarian response is vital. Condemning the incessant and unjustifiable Houthi cross‑border attacks into Saudi Arabia, including the drone attack on 8 October, she also expressed her deep disappointment that the Human Rights Council failed to renew the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts. Monitoring and accountability are essential in all conflict situations, she emphasized, calling on all parties to the conflict to respect human rights and investigate allegations of violations.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) said it was particularly important to hear the Special Envoy's views of his contacts with the Yemeni parties. He also welcomed the Special Envoy's stance to interact with the Ambassadors of the five permanent Security Council members in Yemen. Expressing hope that the Special Envoy will actively work to establish a dialogue between the warring parties, he expressed Moscow's continued support for the United Nations efforts. He went on to encourage the Yemeni authorities and the leadership of the Houthi to demonstrate a constructive approach and readiness to compromise. Stressing the need for launching inter‑Yemeni talks under the auspices of the United Nations, he said a future political arrangement must take into account the interests of all Yemeni political forces. Noting the mediation efforts of the regional States, he recalled Security Council resolution 598 (1987) and other initiatives aimed at stabilizing the subregion, including the updated Russian concept of collective regional security.
GENG SHUANG (China) called for a ceasefire to the fighting in Marib and other areas and voiced deep concerns regarding the drone strikes earlier this month on two airports in Yemen. Condemning all attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, he emphasized that all concerned parties must come together to implement the Riyadh Agreement. He also expressed his hope that Yemen will make use of the special drawing rights allocated by the International Monetary Fund and humanitarian assistance to stabilize the rial and ensure basic services. Welcoming the high‑level side event on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen at the General Assembly, he said he hoped donor countries will keep vital aid programmes alive. Further, all relevant parties must ensure the ports are open and supplies can be delivered to help those in need. Commending Special Envoy Grunberg's approach of "positive pragmatism", he encouraged him to continue efforts to ensure a peaceful settlement is reached and called on all parties concerned to receive the Envoy's visits "unconditionally" in order to find a political solution to the crisis. He also called on regional countries to play a more active role in bringing about peace in Yemen.
ADEL BEN LAGHA (Tunisia) urged the greater commitment of all actors to peace and calm in Yemen and called for intensified efforts to silence the guns and relaunch negotiations towards a political solution. There is no alternative to an inclusive settlement, as a military option can only complicate the situation further and produce more victims, he emphasized. Urging the Houthis to choose peace without preconditions, he also encouraged the Special Envoy to engage with all parties. Condemning the Houthis offensive on Marib, he urged the warring parties to respect international humanitarian and human rights law. He also expressed deep concern over the deteriorating food insecurity and the fragile health system, calling for rapid humanitarian interventions.
TRA PHUONG NGUYEN (Viet Nam) condemned the 10 October attack on a Yemeni Government convoy in the city of Aden that left six dead and seven wounded. She urged concerned parties to immediately cease violence, resume dialogue and engage with the Special Envoy and his team on a comprehensive political settlement to the conflict. Turning to the humanitarian situation, she pointed out that prolonged fighting, the COVID‑19 pandemic and the collapse of the economy and infrastructure have left two thirds of the country's population in need of assistance. Five million people are on the verge of famine, nearly 400,000 children are at imminent risk of death and reports indicate that more than 3,500 children have been victims to one or more forms of grave violence. Against this backdrop, she called for unimpeded humanitarian access in Yemen and for all parties to respect international humanitarian law and Council resolution 2573 (2021). She also urged the Houthis to allow the United Nations assessment team to carry out necessary repairs on the oil tanker Safer without delay.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) expressed concern over the 400,000 children suffering from malnutrition and the worsening violence in Yemen, including frequent attacks on civilian infrastructure in Marib; the siege of the Al Abdiyah district where more than 35,000 people lack access to basic goods and services; ongoing attacks against Saudi Arabia; and the 10 October attack on the governor of Aden. He called on Ansar Allah to cease its violence and on all parties to exercise restraint, as armed conflict undermines any possibility of progress towards political understanding and economic recovery. He also urged all States to respect the arms embargo pursuant to relevant Council resolutions. Turning to the humanitarian situation, he condemned the 18 September execution of nine people by Ansar Allah, stressing that the death penalty is unacceptable under any circumstances. In addition, he expressed regret over the Human Rights Council's failure to renew the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen, as accountability is the only way to achieve genuine social reconciliation.
GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland), strongly condemning the attack in Aden last Sunday, called for a full resumption of dialogue between the internationally recognized Government and the Southern Transitional Council. Expressing deep concern over the grave violations against children in Yemen, documented in the most recent report on Children in Armed Conflict, she recalled the words of Henrietta Fore [Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)] to the Council: "Being a child in Yemen is the stuff of nightmares." The recent Houthi execution of nine Yemenis, reportedly including a minor at the time of his detention, was deplorable and is in stark violation of Yemeni legislation and human rights norms. Condemning the most recent attacks by the Houthis on Saudi Arabia, she also called for full, unfettered and safe humanitarian access to all parts of Yemen, unblocking restrictions on fuel and food imports and payment of civil servant salaries. She further urged all parties to engage constructively in discussions regarding the repair of the Safer tanker. Noting that she was profoundly disappointed that the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen had not been renewed at the Human Rights Council last week, she pointed out that the Group was the only independent, international and impartial mechanism monitoring the dire human rights situation in Yemen.
T. S. TIRUMURTI (India), expressing deep concern on the increasing death toll due to the prolonged fighting in Marib and other parts of Yemen, stressed that a comprehensive ceasefire should be the immediate priority of the international community. Pointing to the declining currency exchange rate of Yemen, which led to hiking the prices of food, fuel and other commodities, he called on all parties to lift restrictions on the movement of humanitarian aid and other essential commodities. He also expressed his hope that the return of the Prime Minister of Yemen [Maeen Abdulmalek Saeed] to Aden will pave the way for the return of the full cabinet to Aden and he encouraged the Government of Yemen and the Southern Transitional Council to continue the dialogue on the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement. Calling for the full implementation of Stockholm Agreement, he noted his concern on the continuing ceasefire violations in Hudaydah and urged concerned parties to immediately remove the restrictions on UNMHA's freedom of movement which hamper the monitoring of these ceasefire violations. Welcoming the exchange of prisoners with local mediation, he also pointed out the need for a proper mechanism for these activities. He further condemned the sustained cross‑border missile and drone attacks into Saudi Arabia and the recent car bombing in Aden targeting prominent political figures and called for an urgent solution to resolve the *Safer *tanker issue.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States) stressed that the cross‑border attacks on airports in Saudi Arabia pose a national and regional obstacle to peace. The Council must demonstrate its unstinting support for the Special Envoy and call out Houthi obstruction, as they have repeatedly refused to agree on a ceasefire or on constructive engagement with the United Nations. Welcoming Yemen's Prime Minister's return to Aden, she also called for targeted financial support to improve the provision of services to citizens. The dire humanitarian situation has left Yemenis "trapped in a downward spiral," she said, adding that the Houthis must be pressed to ensure fuel can be brought in and distributed at affordable prices. She also recalled United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken's announcement of $290 million in additional humanitarian aid to Yemen, bringing the United States 2021 contribution to $800 million. Recent events in Houthi‑held areas, including the public execution of 18 people, 1 of whom was a minor, was deeply concerning, she said. As well, it is appalling that the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts had not been renewed at the Human Rights Council, she stated, adding: "Yemenis deserve accountability."
NIANDOU AOUGI (Niger) expressed concern over the ongoing hostilities in Yemen, particularly about the recent attacks in Saudi Arabia, which aimed at "broadening the shadow of violence beyond Yemen's borders". Such acts will further widen the gap between the parties and make reconciliation difficult, he said. He called for a national ceasefire and the resumption of an inclusive political process. Further, regional actors and Council members with influence must aid movement towards a reconciliation, to ameliorate the worsening crisis. He urged donor countries, especially those in region, to show greater generosity and compassion, and called for the lifting of the blockade on humanitarian aid in the country.
SHERAZ GASRI (France), noting new displacements resulting from intensifying violent clashes in Marib, underscored that the Houthis must abandon the military option as they are only exacerbating the suffering of the Yemeni people. Further, the Houthis must cease their attacks on Saudi Arabia; the attacks on 7 and 8 October at the Abha and Jizan airports constitute an attack on the stability of the entire region. Turning to the humanitarian situation, she stressed that safe, unimpeded humanitarian access to people in need must be guaranteed. She also expressed regret that the mandate for the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen had not been renewed and condemned the 18 September execution of nine people by the Houthis as France is opposed to capital punishment in all circumstances. Concerning the oil tanker Safer, she called on the Houthis to provide the United Nations with immediate, unconditional access thereto, adding that their blackmail on this matter is unacceptable.
ISIS GONSALVES (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) expressed regret that, as her country nears the end of its tenure on the Council, hostilities in Yemen and cross‑border attacks on Saudi Arabia continue unabated. The recent car bombing at the Aden airport is one of the many examples of the destruction the conflict continues to wreak on the civilian population. She reiterated the need for an immediate ceasefire that opens the door for political dialogue, the success of which requires a process led, owned and focused by and on the Yemeni people. Turning to the humanitarian situation, she stressed that a sustained humanitarian operation that reaches those most in need is critical for the everyday survival of the population. This crisis is compounded by the deterioration of the economy, and many Yemenis -- due to lost salaries, currency depreciation, significant inflation and curtailment of important economic sectors -- lack the ability to survive day‑to‑day. External support in these circumstances "essentially becomes compulsory," she stressed.
SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia) expressed deep disappointment that the Human Rights Council failed to extend the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts on 7 October. During the past four years, the Group has done extremely important work on monitoring the human rights situation in Yemen. It is in the interest of the people of Yemen that accountability for human rights violations and abuses is ensured. He also expressed his concern about the continued reports of human rights violations and abuses by all parties to the conflict, including sexual violence and recruitment and use of children. The latest report of the Secretary‑General on Children and Armed Conflict in Yemen demonstrates the harsh reality that the armed conflict continues to cause atrocities and immense suffering to children in Yemen. More than 8,500 grave violations against children were recorded between 2019 and 2020.
TRINE SKARBOEVIK HEIMERBACK (Norway) welcomed the Special Envoy's efforts to bring about a more inclusive process, including his direct engagement with the Yemeni Women's Technical Advisory Group. While the return of the Prime Minister to Aden last month was a welcome development, the security situation nonetheless remains concerning. Attacks such as the recent car bomb impede the prospects for peace, she said, urging all parties to create a conducive environment for the Government to fully function, including by fully implementing the Riyadh Agreement. She expressed deep concern by UNICEF reports on the highest number of children reported killed and injured in Marib, as well as the recent Secretary‑General report on Children and Armed Conflict in Yemen, which also noted a significant increase and prevalence of incidents of denial of humanitarian access to children in the country. She called on all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, including to protect children. Turning to the Safer oil tanker, she said there is a concerning lack of progress on the issue, while the risk of disaster grows daily. She voiced her hope that the appointment of David Gressly as the United Nations Resident Coordinator will help movement towards finding a solution.
MARTIN KIMANI (Kenya), Council President for October, speaking in his national capacity, expressed deep concern over the recent events, including the renewed violence in Marib. He also voiced concern about the increasing aerial cross‑border attacks by the Houthis on civilian facilities in Saudi Arabia and the public execution of nine men convicted of their alleged involvement in the killing of a senior Houthi official. Noting his country's support for the Special Envoy's efforts to help the parties to break the existing stalemate, he said such efforts will all be futile unless the Yemenis themselves make necessary compromises, agree on a working nationwide ceasefire, and recommit to a negotiated political solution. The parties should remember that their own vulnerable children, youth, women and the elderly bear the brunt of the effects of this destructive civil war. The Council should seriously consider the proposals by the civil society briefer, Ms. Al‑Deen, including the establishment of a coordination mechanism for the delivery of humanitarian aid. It has been almost a year since the Houthis agreed to allow the United Nations team to inspect the decaying Safer oil tanker. The looming environmental catastrophe with its attendant economic consequences must be avoided. However, several additional preconditions placed by the Houthis have stalled the repairs from commencing. The cost and implication of an oil leak to the shipping industry and price of goods would be equivalent to fund Yemen's humanitarian appeal for the next five to six years.
ABDULLAH ALI FADHEL AL-SAADI (Yemen) pointed out that the Houthis stole $16 million from the Al‑Hudaydah branch of the Central Bank of Yemen that was deposited to pay the salaries of Government employees. This is part of the $1.8 billion they have stolen "to wage a futile war against the Yemeni people," he said. His Government values the support that Saudi Arabia has provided to the Yemeni people under these difficult circumstances, he said, highlighting how that country is hosting millions of refugees and delivering economic and humanitarian support to the population at all stages of the crisis. The Houthi militias are a tool of the Iranian regime, holding Yemen hostage to Iranian intervention and exporting the Iranian experience to Yemen, he stated, adding that such efforts are rejected by the Yemeni people in its entirety.
He went on to express hope that the Special Envoy's efforts will contribute to ending this crisis. However, while the Government is ready to cooperate in this regard, the Houthis -- in return -- have continued their futile war, killing women and children with drones, snipers and mines. Houthi militias persist in carrying out terrorist attacks against civilians, who face hunger, disease and death. Meanwhile, the international community remains shamefully silent. He called on the Security Council -- and on human conscience -- to take urgent action to lift the blockade in the Al Abdiyah district of Marib and save the lives of women, children and the injured.
He went on to say that the militia's execution of nine people in a barbaric attack reminiscent of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da'esh) and drone attacks on civilian infrastructure demonstrate the militia's intention to cling to war, destroying Yemen to implement the expansionist Iranian agenda in the region. He urged the international community to shoulder its responsibility to stop this Houthi arrogance, bloodshed and destruction and to end the suffering of the Yemeni people. Turning to the situation involving the oil tanker Safer, he said that the Houthis are blackmailing the international community and he called on the Council to take decisive action to allow the United Nations to reach the tanker for necessary repairs without delay.