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National Statement at the UN Security Council VTC meeting on Yemen

Delivered by Permanent Representative of Estonia to UN Mr. Sven Jürgenson

I would like to thank Special Envoy Griffiths and Acting Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Ramesh Rajasingham their briefings.

It is most worrying that we are still witnessing fighting in Yemen despite the pressing need to cease military activity and focus on containing the spread of the coronavirus. We reiterate the call of the UN Secretary General to cease hostilities in Yemen, focus on reaching a negotiated political settlement and do everything possible to counter the outbreak of COVID-19. With reportedly nearly half of the health facilities not functioning in Yemen, the spread of the virus would have devastating consequences for the people of Yemen who are already suffering in the largest humanitarian crisis.

We welcome the Coalition forces’ announcement  of a one-month extension to the ceasefire, and we urge the Houthis to uphold it as well. It is time for all sides to stop military activity and to resume talks, as it is the only way to effectively confront the pandemic, a common threat for everyone. We urge the parties to engage with the Special Envoy constructively and without delay and make efforts to reach an agreement on starting a formal political process for ending the crisis.

In addition to the ongoing fighting in the North, the latest developments in Southern Yemen are also of great concern. The declaration of self-rule by the Southern Transitional Council and the subsequent clashes between the STC and the Government forces undermine the efforts of the Special Envoy to resume talks and to end the war. We call on the Government of Yemen and the Southern Transitional Council to cease the military activity and continue implementing the Riyadh Agreement, which would allow both parties to participate in the political talks on solving the conflict in Yemen.

A solution to the conflict can only be achieved through a political compromise that addresses the legitimate concerns of all Yemenis. This calls for an inclusive and comprehensive political process mediated by the United Nations, with full and meaningful participation of women and youth.

We welcome the announcement of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia regarding hosting a donor conference to support Yemen on the 2nd of June. Regrettably, the restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian aid in Yemen are still in place and prevent the aid organizations to help those in need. Respecting humanitarian principles and securing unhindered and safe humanitarian access is an obligation for all parties in conflict. Securing the delivery of humanitarian supplies, including medical equipment, is especially important for preventing the spread of COVID-19.

We also stress the necessity for all parties to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law and to ensure accountability for all violations and abuses. Special attention needs to be given to the protection of vulnerable populations, in particular women and children. We also call for the release of arbitrarily detained persons, including journalists and human rights defenders, who are facing the threat of contracting COVID-19 in crowded prisons.

Finally, I would like to once more repeat our call upon the Houthis to allow United Nations officials access to the SAFER oil tanker without delay, in order to prevent an environmental disaster.

Thank you very much