UN humanitarian leaders address UNSC meeting on Yemen crisis

The United Nations Security Council convened on Wednesday for a meeting to address the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Yemen. United Nations Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien addressed the Council, emphasizing the food security crisis and the cholera outbreak in Yemen. He stressed that the Yemeni health system has collapsed, pointing to the facts that 65% of health facilities in the country have closed and that 30,000 health workers have not received their salaries in nearly a year. He also noted that UNOCHA’s Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan is only 33% funded. Finally, he called for more serious international action to hold the parties to the conflict accountable for violations of international humanitarian law and to demand the opening of the airport in San’a and the protection of the port in al-Hudaydah.

World Health Organization Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke as well, requesting that UN member states accelerate the political process to bring an end to the conflict, ensure that civilian infrastructure is protected in accordance with international humanitarian law, make good on funding pledges, and commit political and financial support for the long-term development and reconstruction of Yemen. Food and Agriculture Organization Director General José Graziano da Silva stressed the need for both funding and access, particularly to rural areas. He warned that food production in Yemen has dropped by 40% since the beginning of the conflict and concluded by emphasizing the need to “save lives by saving livelihoods.”

United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed lamented the growing violence in Yemen, particularly during the month of Ramadan. He referenced battles of attrition in several governorates, the recent attack on an Emirati ship, the food security crisis, and the cholera epidemic. Over 1,700 people have died as a result of the Cholera outbreak. He discussed negotiations on the issue of the port in al-Hudaydah and expressed hope that such negotiations would be a preliminary step toward larger negotiations for a resolution of the conflict. He also called on Yemenis to address the “southern question” through peaceful dialogue.