UN: Failure in Delivering Aid for Yemenis ‘the Worst International Response to a Humanitarian Crisis’, Civil Society Briefer Tells Security Council

UNITED NATIONS, New York, Oct 14 – 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.

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