Statement by Ambassador Sven Jürgenson at UN Security Council VTC meeting on Yemen

I thank Special Envoy Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General Lowcock and Ambassador Inga Rhonda King for their briefings.

The escalation of hostilities in Marib and al-Jawf is very alarming. We call upon the Houthis to immediately cease these assaults, as well as the cross-border attacks on the territory of Saudi Arabia. We fully share the concern expressed by Under-Secretary-General Lowcock that the assault on Marib could cause harm to two million civilians and possibly force hundreds of thousands to flee.

We urge all parties to make a joint effort to end this war and resume the political process. Only an inclusive political solution can end the conflict in Yemen – we reiterate our call to the parties to engage with the UN Special Envoy and agree on ceasefire and humanitarian measures without delay, in order to begin political talks.

We welcome all international efforts aimed at supporting the inclusive political settlement of the conflict, such as the recent visit of several European Union Ambassadors to Aden. We also welcome the resumption of talks on the prisoner exchange on 24 January in Amman, as it is an important confidence-building and humanitarian measure.

Turning to the report of the Yemen Panel of Experts, I would like to extend appreciation for the important work the Panel has done in carrying out its mandate and look forward to renewing the mandate later this month.

We note with deep concern the report’s conclusion that all parties continue to commit violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, including indiscriminate attacks against civilians, enforced disappearances and torture. The Panel also reports systematic repression of journalists, sexual violence, and the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict by several parties. The parties must cease these violations immediately and perpetrators must be held to account.

Regarding the 30 December attack on Aden airport, we look forward to the results of the Panel of Experts’ investigation.

Regarding the humanitarian situation, the rising food insecurity continues to be a major concern, as the latest UN report on Acute Malnutrition shows the highest levels of severe acute malnutrition since the start of the conflict.

In this context, we commend the United States’ decision to revoke the designation of Ansar Allah as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, as it will hopefully prevent an even more catastrophic situation in Yemen. We also welcome the convening of the timely high-level pledging conference for Yemen on 1 March, co-hosted by Sweden and Switzerland. Estonia’s intention is to keep contributing to help alleviate the critical humanitarian situation of the people in Yemen.

We also reiterate our call upon the Houthi authorities to ensure immediate and full access to the SAFER oil tanker for the UN team.