Yemen Crisis: UNSC calls on the Houthis to urgently facilitate safe access for UN experts to repair the ‘Safer’ oil tanker
New York: While United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres welcomed the further release of detainees by the Yemeni parties on October 15 and 16, in line with the agreement reached on September 27 for the release of over 1,000 people who had been detained in connection with the conflict, the UN Security Council stressed the need for de-escalation across Yemen and a nationwide ceasefire.
Guterres described the release as an an important step in the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement and noted that this was the largest prisoner exchange since the start of the conflict. He urged the parties to continue on this path in their engagement with his Special Envoy, in good faith and without preconditions, to finalize the Joint Declaration, consisting of a nationwide ceasefire, economic and humanitarian measures, as well as the resumption of a comprehensive, inclusive political process to end the war.
In the meantime, the UNSC called for implementation of the UN Secretary General’s Global Ceasefire call as detailed in resolution 2532 (2020), as well as his 25 March call for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Yemen, Council President Vassily Nebenzia (Russian Federation), informed yesterday.
The UNSC members condemned the escalation on Marib for putting residents and internally displaced persons at grave risk the continuation of Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, which posed a serious threat to regional security, while taking note of initial steps taken by the Houthis to address the problems of obstruction and interference with humanitarian assistance operations.
Recognizing the “grave threat” posed by the Safer oil tanker, whose dire and dilapidated condition risks an environmental, economic and humanitarian catastrophe to Yemen and the region, the UNSC called on the Houthis to urgently facilitate unconditional and safe access for United Nations experts to conduct an assessment and repair mission, as mutually negotiated in principle between the Houthis and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). The Safer tanker, with 1.1 million barrels of crude oil on board, has been stranded off Yemen’s Red Sea oil terminal of Ras Issa for more than five years.
The Council members further called on all the Yemeni parties to facilitate full, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access to all the people in need in the country, and condemned the recent military escalation in Hudaydah governorate, viewing it as a violation of the Hudaydah Agreement and warning that it risks jeopardizing the peace process.
The escalation in the country, the UNSC said, was threatening to derail the United Nations peace process. It further called for an immediate stop to the fighting and for engagement with the United Nations Mission to support the Hudaydah Agreement’s (UNMHA) joint implementation mechanisms. They also reiterated the importance of full compliance with the Security Council’s targeted arms embargo on Yemen.
The members expressed deep concern that famine is a realistic prospect in Yemen this year in the event of prolonged disruption to food imports or hindrances to distribution, or continued economic collapse, exacerbated by the outbreak of COVID-19 and locust infestations. They were of the view that addressing the drivers of food insecurity including ceasing conflict and ensuring unhindered access for humanitarian supplies and personnel would help alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people, and urged donors who have made significant contributions in the past to increase humanitarian assistance to the United Nations-led response now, and to ensure the quick disbursement of commitments once made.
The members reiterated that only an inclusive political solution can end the conflict in Yemen and emphasised their steadfast support for United Nations Special Envoy Martin Griffiths. They urged the parties to urgently endorse the United Nations-facilitated Joint Declaration proposals without delay in order to achieve an inclusive and sustainable peace. They stressed the need for urgent agreement to the Joint Declaration to enable negotiation of a comprehensive transitional agreement to end the conflict where power is shared among diverse political and social components.
They underlined the importance of an inclusive political process allowing for the full and effective participation of women and youth, and called for the swift resumption of talks between the parties, in full engagement with the mediation led by the United Nations Special Envoy.
While welcoming the recent contributions made by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, and France, and the mobilization of the Peace Support Facility, the UNSC reiterated its commitment to an inclusive Yemeni-led and Yemeni-owned political process as set out in the relevant United Nations resolutions. This included resolution 2216 (2015), as well as by the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative and its implementation mechanism and the outcome of the National Dialogue Conference. It reaffirmed the international community’s firm commitment to uphold Yemen’s sovereignty, unity, independence, and territorial integrity and urged all parties to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law including those related to humanitarian access and the protection of civilian objects and civilians, and the protection of humanitarian and health personnel and their facilities. They reiterated the need to protect children and women against all forms of violence. They underlined the need for parties to prevent human rights violations and grave abuses.
The members also welcomed the announcement on 28 July of renewed implementation of the Riyadh Agreement and the mediation led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in this regard. They called on the Yemeni Government and Southern Transitional Council to fully implement the Riyadh Agreement urgently and welcomed the agreement by the parties on September 27 to release 1,081 prisoners, an important step in the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement and an important confidence-building measure. They also welcomed the flights on 15 and 16 October, stressed the importance of continued implementation, and welcomed the parties’ commitment to continue further negotiations on the implementation of the Prisoner Exchange Agreement and urged them to quickly reconvene in that regard.
– globalbihari bureau