Amid Worsening Humanitarian Situation, Latest Peace Talks Provide ‘Solid’ Basis for Renewed, Stronger Ceasefire in Yemen, Security Council Told

SC/12180
22 December 2015
7596th Meeting (AM)

Amid Worsening Humanitarian Situation, Latest Peace Talks Provide ‘Solid’ Basis for Renewed, Stronger Ceasefire in Yemen, Security Council Told

Inaction Could Mean ‘Balkanization’, More Misery for Millions, Briefers Warn

Despite deep remaining divisions, the latest round of peace negotiations between parties to the conflict in Yemen had provided a solid foundation for resumed talks in January and a renewed, strengthened cessation of hostilities, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy told the Security Council in today.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said the 15 December negotiations in Switzerland between the Government of Yemen and opposition groups had aimed to end the violence and develop a framework for bringing the country back to a peaceful and orderly transition, as called for by the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative and outcomes of the National Dialogue.  While the cessation of hostilities, announced on 15 December, had been welcomed by the Government and the Houthis, numerous violations had been reported on its third day.  That lack of compliance underscored the need for stronger agreements and more robust mechanisms to ensure adherence.

One successful outcome had been the creation of a coordination and de-escalation committee designed to liaise with military leadership, he continued.  Participants had agreed that it should continue its work in the coming months and be based in the region, with United Nations support.  “This is a concrete and practical outcome of the talks in Switzerland that I hope will allow a more effective ceasefire agreement in the near future,” he said.

Joining Mr. Ahmed were Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Kyung-Wha Kang, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, who briefed the Council on the worsening humanitarian situation in Yemen.

Mr. Hussein said the combined impact of violence and artificial impediments to aid delivery had been disastrous.  Some 21 million people — 80 per cent of Yemen’s people — now relied on assistance and half the population suffered from malnutrition.  Intensified patterns of abuse included violations of the right to life, destruction of civilian infrastructure and illegal detention by all parties.  Heavy shelling from the ground and air continued in areas with a high concentration of civilians.

Warning that failure to act would spell misery for millions of Yemenis and push the country into an irreversible process of balkanization, he said the ramifications of a failed State in Yemen would create safe havens for radical and confessional groups.  It was imperative to set political and ideological differences aside in order to re-establish some measure of security and stability, he emphasized.

Ms. Kang said humanitarian actors had seized the 15 December cessation of hostilities to carry out needs assessments and project monitoring, which had been “extremely challenging” due to the lack of security guarantees.  Amid “appalling” conditions, 7.6 million people required emergency food assistance.  Since mid-March, the conflict had spread to 20 of Yemen’s 22 governorates, exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation brought on by years of poverty, poor governance and instability.

The 2.5 million internally displaced people represented an eight-fold increase since the start of the fighting, she said, noting that the highest number, at 400,000, was in Taiz Governorate, followed by Amran and Hajjah.  On a positive note, she said she was relieved to report that food imports had returned to pre-crisis levels.  Fuel imports, while only half of what they had been, had increased four-fold since October.  It was critical to sustain those increases, she stressed.

In the ensuing debate, speakers expressed deep concern about the protracted conflict and worsening humanitarian disaster in Yemen, decrying the fact that 7.6 million people required aid.  Several said they had hoped for greater progress in the Switzerland talks, while others described the fact that the parties had come together in Switzerland for face-to-face meetings as “no small feat”.  While voicing regret over the lack of engagement in adhering to the ceasefire, they welcomed the agreement to resume talks in January, emphasizing that the humanitarian situation required it.

In that context, Jordan’s representative condemned all violations of humanitarian laws, including those by Saudi Arabia through its use of missiles.  The city of Taiz had suffered the worst form of collective punishment through the prevention of aid, she said, urging States to press the Houthis to allow it entry.  The Gulf Cooperation Council must be part of the solution because the situation threatened the entire region, she said.

Yemen’s representative said the Government sought to revive commercial activity and, in August, had agreed with the United Nations and coalition forces on the implementation of a verification and inspection mechanism.  However, shipments destined for Yemen’s northern and central areas had been plundered by warlords and “putschists” who engaged in political blackmail to prevent their movement.  Confidence-building measures should be taken ahead of the coming talks, especially on the release of political detainees and the removal of impediments to aid and commercial goods delivery.

The representative of the Russian Federation said all Yemeni forces must unite and push back against terrorism, adding that his delegation expected a “ratcheting up” of efforts for the beginning of substantive talks about a withdrawal of forces and the rebuilding of Yemen.

Also speaking today were representatives of United Kingdom, Chad, Malaysia, Spain, Venezuela, China, Lithuania, Nigeria, Angola, New Zealand, Chile, France and the United States.

The meeting began at 10:35 a.m. and ended at 12:35 p.m.

Briefings

ISMAIL OULD CHEIKH AHMED, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, briefed on the first face-to-face talks of the Yemen peace process held in Switzerland, reporting that the meetings had not resulted in an end to the fighting as hoped.  However, constructive meetings had been held between the Government of Yemen and its political and military opponents, providing a solid foundation for resumed talks and the basis of a renewed and strengthened cessation of hostilities.  The talks had taken place during a bleak period for Yemen, amidst a worsening security situation, with hundreds of civilian killed and many more injured.  The catastrophic situation of the health-care system had been exacerbated by the destruction of two Medecins sans Frontieres medical facilities, he said.

Cross-border attacks in the north, involving the use of heavy weaponry, had had a serious impact on security and stability in the border area, he said.  The conflict and the security vacuum had led to a dangerous expansion in the number of extremist groups, particularly in the areas of Abyan, Al Bai’da and Shabwa.  Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula had consolidated its presence in the Governorate of Hadaramout and the port of Mukalla, and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) continued its campaign of attacks and assassinations of political leaders, including the Governor of Aden.  He said that despite the many security challenges, he had visited President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi Mansour in Aden on 5 December and other Government officials in Riyadh, adding that he had met with representatives of the Houthis, the General Popular Conference and other key stakeholders in Oman.

Despite deep differences, agreement had been reached on the format and agenda of the talks in Switzerland.  On 15 December, delegations had met around a single table in Macolin.  The talks had been aimed at putting an end to the violence, as well as developing a clear framework that would bring Yemen back to a peaceful and orderly transition, in accordance with the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative and the outcomes of the National Dialogue.  He said that he had announced the cessation of hostilities on the morning of 15 December and it had been welcomed by the Government and the Houthis.  A Coordination and De-escalation Committee had been established to liaise with the military leadership.  Tragically, the cessation of hostilities had not been preserved throughout the length of the talks, he said, noting that numerous violations had been reported on its third day.  That lack of compliance demonstrated the need for stronger agreements, as well as more robust mechanisms to ensure adherence, he emphasized.

Participants in the talks had agreed that the Committee’s work should continue over the coming months, and that it should be based in the region, with United Nations support, he said.  “This is a concrete and practical outcome of the talks in Switzerland that I hope will allow a more effective ceasefire agreement in the near future.”  The agenda for the talks had included discussion of humanitarian issues, confidence-building measures and a general framework that could serve as the foundation for a comprehensive settlement.  With officials from United Nations humanitarian agencies having joined the talks, participants had agreed to restore humanitarian access to Taiz, which had been largely cut off from aid for many months.  On 17 December, a large United Nations convoy carrying fuel and food supplies had entered Taiz.

Most importantly, he said, the discussions had led to a common understanding of a negotiation framework, firmly based on resolution 2216 (2015) and other relevant Council resolutions, while providing a mechanism for the return to a peaceful and orderly transition, based on the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative and National Dialogue Outcomes.  The two sides had agreed that that framework would serve as the foundation of the next round of talks.  The framework covered the creation of interim security committees, the withdrawal of militias and armed groups, the restoration of State institutions and the resumption of inclusive political dialogue.  It provided the foundation for a new political consensus and special security measures that would help Yemen achieve stability and enable it to confront extremist groups.

He went on to state that while the talks had also revealed deep divisions between the two sides, regarding the path to peace and the shape of a future agreement, the commitment of the delegations, especially the chairs, had in the end proved stronger than the divisions.  The delegations had agreed to meet again next month within a common framework that would help them map out a clear path to peace and a negotiated and inclusive political transition.  “We all know that the path to peace in Yemen will be a long and difficult one, but we also know that failure is not an option,” he said.  The Yemeni people had been devastated by the most horrific violence and conflict the country had ever seen, and the challenge now would be how to strengthen and build upon the progress made.  He called for the Council’s support to ensure a durable and comprehensive ceasefire ahead of the upcoming talks, and backing for the negotiating framework proposed to the parties.

ZEID RA’AD AL HUSSEIN, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said he was encouraged by recent efforts aimed at reaching a peaceful solution to the conflict, noting that the preceding intensification had resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of civilian casualties and an aggravation of the already dire humanitarian situation.  The combined impact of violence and artificial impediments to the delivery of humanitarian assistance had proved to be disastrous.  At least 21 million people, 80 per cent of the population, were currently reliant on humanitarian assistance and half the population suffered from malnutrition.

There continued to be an intensification of existing patterns of abuse, including violations of the right to life, the destruction of civilian objects and infrastructure and illegal detention by all parties to the conflict, he said.  The number of civilian casualties across the country continued to rise, he said, pointing out that more than 2,700 civilians had been killed and more than 5,300 injured since the start of the conflict.  The Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had documented dozens of cases of alleged illegal detention, primarily at the hand of the Popular Committees.  More than 600 children had been killed in 2015, a five-fold increase over 2014.

He said he had presented, to the thirtieth session of the Human Rights Council, a report that addressed credible allegation of violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.  The report also presented a number of recommendations, especially a call for an international investigation into violations and accountability for the perpetrators.  The Government of Yemen had earlier announced its intention to create a national commission of investigation.  The Human Rights Council had adopted resolution 30/18, which called upon OHCHR to provide technical assistance to a national commission of inquiry.  Recruiting and deployment of new staff members was currently pending approval by the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).

All parties had continued heavy shelling from the ground and the air in areas with a high concentration of civilians, he said, noting, however, that a disproportionate amount appeared to be the result of air strikes carried out by coalition forces.  OHCHR would continue to document credible allegations of violations, to call upon all parties to uphold the protection of civilians and to hold those responsible for serious violations to account.  Strongly encouraging the Government of Yemen to ratify the Rome Statute and urgently accept the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction, he also called upon the Council to help restrain all parties from the use of force, urging all sides to abide by the basic principles of international humanitarian law, including the immediate removal of all impediment to humanitarian assistance.

“Unless Yemen and the world urgently rise to meet the extraordinary challenges presented by this situation, the consequences could be even more catastrophic,” he warned.  Failure to act decisively not only spelled misery for the millions of vulnerable people in Yemen, but would inevitably push the country into an irreversible process of Balkanization.  “The potential ramifications of a failed State in Yemen would almost inevitably create safe havens for radical and confessional groups, such as the so-called ‘ISIS’.”, he said.  “Finally, in light of the enormity of this crisis, it is imperative that relevant stakeholders put aside their political and ideological differences in order to achieve our common goal to re-establish some measure of security and stability in Yemen.”

KYUNG-WHA KANG, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, described conditions in Yemen as “appalling”, with some 7.6 million people requiring emergency food assistance.  At least 2 million were malnourished, including 320,000 children suffering from severe malnutrition, a two-fold increase from March.  “There can be little doubt that this serious deterioration in the humanitarian situation has been caused by the current conflict in Yemen,” she said.  Since mid-March, the conflict had spread to 20 of Yemen’s 22 governorates, exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation brought on by years of poverty, poor governance and instability.  Eight million people had lost safe access to drinking water and at least 1.8 million children had dropped out of classes.  The conflict had also impacted an array of social infrastructure, including markets and roads, and together with import restrictions, had crippled the economy.  In the north, the State had no financial resources and relevant ministries were unable to procure supplies or pay salaries to doctors, nurses and teachers.

She went on to note that 14 million people lacked adequate access to health care, describing Yemen’s health-care system as “close to collapse”.  Air strikes and shelling had forced families from their homes, she said, noting that the more than 2.5 million internally displaced Yemenis represented an eight-fold increase from the start of the conflict.  Those numbers had increased significantly in the north, mainly due to air strikes, with Taiz Governorate hosting the highest numbers of displaced people at nearly 400,000, followed by Amran and Hajjah.  More than 2,700 civilians had been killed throughout the country, 637 of them children, she continued, noting that women had been especially impacted.  More than 30 per cent of displaced households in some areas were female-headed, a notable increase from 9 per cent from before the crisis.  Since March, there had been a 70 per cent increase in gender-based violence incidents.  Against that backdrop, humanitarian organizations were responding, with 4 million people having been provided with access to emergency water and sanitation through water trucking.

Some 1.9 million people had been reached with food in November and planning to reach 3 million more by December was under way, she continued.  By February, 5 million people should be receiving food aid across the country.  She said the agreement by the parties to cease all hostilities as of 15 December had been seized by humanitarian actors as a long-awaited opportunity to reach inaccessible areas, in particular to carry out needs assessments and project monitoring, activities that had been “extremely challenging” due to the lack of security guarantees amid continuing hostilities.  Deliveries had been impacted by fighting, denials of clearance for convoy movements and delays stemming from the resumption of cumbersome movement notification procedures to the coalition.  The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs continued to monitor commercial imports, she said, expressing relief that food imports had returned to pre-crisis levels.  Fuel imports, while only half of what they had been before the crisis, had increased four-fold since October.  Yet, prices remained high, in part because of damaged roads, she said.

Statements

MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) noted that, had members of the Council been Yemeni, 12 of them would have needed humanitarian assistance and four would have required immediate food assistance.  However, there were signs of hope, he said, welcoming the parties’ presence at the negotiating table.  The ceasefire needed to be extended beyond December, he said, calling upon all sides to respect it and to fulfil their obligations under international humanitarian law.  Although the United Kingdom had doubled its assistance to Yemen, the international humanitarian response remained underfunded, he said.  Concerned about arbitrary detention and the disappearance of humanitarian workers and journalist at Houthi hands, he called for the release of all unlawfully detained people, emphasizing that the Houthis should put down their weapons, withdraw and recognize the Government of Yemen.  He warned that Da’esh might exploit the situation, stressing that countering the terrorist threat must be a top priority.

MAHAMAT ZENE CHERIF (Chad) said he was concerned about the worsening humanitarian and security situation in Yemen, describing the price paid in human lives as atrocious.  The situation was further compounded by the destruction of infrastructure and the lack of social services.  Without a political prospect, the conflict might pose a risk of regional conflict and provide fertile ground for terrorists, he warned.  The international community and countries in the region must prioritize the creation of conditions conducive to dialogue.  There was an urgent need for de-escalation and a lasting ceasefire.  Chad welcomed the recent talks in Switzerland and the Special Envoy’s unstinting mediation efforts, he said, expressing hope that the parties would soon resume consultations on creating mutual confidence for dialogue.  Deploring violations of the ceasefire by the Houthis, he called upon the parties to refrain from actions that could undermine the peace process.  The international community should apply pressure to ensure that the parties took part in the dialogue without preconditions, he said.

RAMLAN BIN IBRAHIM (Malaysia) expressed deep concern about the protracted conflict in Yemen and the consequent humanitarian disaster.  While the parties to the conflict had come together in Switzerland to engage in face-to-face negotiations — a development that was “by no means a small feat” — Malaysia regretted their lack of commitment to engaging in good faith and to adhere to the ceasefire agreed prior to the talks.  A political solution was the only legitimate path towards a democratic, stable and inclusive Yemen, and prolonging the military conflict would only benefit terrorist groups such as Al-Qaida and Da’esh, he said.  Noting that more than 600 children had been killed in the conflict since March, and that a staggering 10 million children were in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, he reiterated the urgent need for an immediate ceasefire or, at the very least, ample periods of humanitarian pauses, to allow aid and personnel to reach those in need.  However, humanitarian aid could and should not be expected to take over the role of commercial shipments.  Thus, Malaysia remained concerned about the continuing blockade of commercial shipments and allegations of corruption by certain parties who were trying to benefit from it at the expense of the people’s welfare.

JUAN MANUEL GONZÁLEZ DE LINARES PALOU (Spain), noting that 14.5 million Yemenis were living in food insecurity, underscored the need for a lasting ceasefire that would open the door for restarting negotiations.  A military solution was not a viable alternative, he said, pointing out that the existence of a network of militias with shifting loyalties, when combined with the presence of terrorist groups, created a “dangerous tapestry”.  He underlined the need to respect international humanitarian law, citing positive data about the entry of goods such as fuel.  There was a need to stabilize the entry of goods through Yemen’s ports and to ensure that all Red Sea ports were functional.  He also called for a halt to attacks against schools and medical staff.  The war was linked to regional dynamics, and in that context, Spain called upon other countries in the region to exert their influence on the parties with a view to ending the violence.

HENRY ALFREDO SUÁREZ MORENO (Venezuela) said resolution 2216 (2015) had had “scant” impact on the search for a solution to the conflict in Yemen, stressing that only dialogue would lay the foundations for such an outcome.  Welcoming the peace dialogue in Switzerland, he emphasized the importance of the United Nations as a mediator, adding that the peace process must include representatives of civil society.  Expressing regret over violations of the cessation of hostilities, he urged compliance by all parties, stressing that the negotiations would only be fruitful if the parties demonstrated a commitment to lasting peace.  Yemen had become one of the worst humanitarian crises, with 6,000 people regrettably having lost their lives, and the only beneficiaries of the conflict were Al-Qaida and ISIL.  He urged the parties to adopt urgent measures to end hostilities, and to respect international humanitarian law, international human rights law and the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

ZHAO YONG (China), welcoming the resumption of political dialogue in Switzerland and the ceasefire agreement, said Yemen’s history had shown that war offered no solution and that political dialogue was the only path to peace.  He urged parties to demonstrate good faith and exercise political decisiveness in accommodating the concerns of all parties.  Regional States and organizations should continue to play a constructive role, he said, expressing hope that the United Nations would continue to step up the coordination of humanitarian assistance and that the parties would cooperate by offering safe, unimpeded access.  For its part, China had promoted peace talks and provided humanitarian assistance, he said, adding that it would continue to push for an early return to peace in the country.

RAIMONDA MURMOKAITĖ (Lithuania) said the Yemen crisis had reached an “abysmal level” and demanded the international community’s full attention.  To expect a military solution or the surrender of the other side was to “court dangerous illusions”.  The risk of Yemen’s fragmentation was too serious, and there must be a viable follow-up to the Switzerland talks, which would include a cessation of hostilities, unhindered humanitarian access and a political process that put the transition back on track.  The need to stop uncontrolled arms flows into Yemen had been evident even before the conflict had flared up, she said.  A targeted arms embargo had finally been imposed, but as currently structured and applied, its impact was yet to be assessed, she said, adding that a lack of reporting on implementation of the arms embargo, as per resolution 2216 (2015), made that difficult.  That being said, it was important to ensure that reported cases of arms embargo violations, such as one concerning an attempted transfer of weapons from Iran, should be examined seriously by the Panel of Experts and the Sanctions Committee.

U. JOY OGWU (Nigeria) said the fact that the Government and the Houthis had engaged in discussions was encouraging, and welcomed in that regard the agreement reached in Switzerland on a broad framework that could provide a basis for ending the conflict in Yemen.  Concerned that the ceasefire extension had not been agreed, since that would have been the most effective confidence-building measure, she called upon the parties to make the ceasefire permanent.  Expressing regret over the numerous ceasefire violations, she said it was enough to have a ceasefire and the parties must refrain from violating it.  Nigeria looked forward to the resumption of talks in January and hoped it would produce an outcome that would end the conflict.

DINA KAWAR (Jordan) described the recent direct talks in Switzerland as a positive development, and welcomed the declaration of a seven-day ceasefire.  The ceasefire extension was proof of the Government’s willingness to find a solution to the conflict, and it was to be hoped that a further successful meeting in Switzerland would overcome the years-long deadlock.  Jordan looked forward to the January negotiations, she said, underscoring the importance of a framework based on Council resolutions, the National Dialogue outcomes and the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative.  The solution to the crisis must be found on the political track and Government control over all areas.  Condemning all violations of humanitarian laws, including those by Saudi Arabia through its use of missiles, she said the besieged city of Taizit was suffering the worst form of collective punishment as humanitarian aid was prevented.  She called upon the international community to press the Houthis to allow humanitarian aid into the city.  It was important to ensure that the Gulf Cooperation Council was part of the solution because the situation in Yemen was a threat to the region as a whole, she said.

VLADIMIR SAFRONKOV (Russian Federation) welcomed the resumed negotiations and recognized the “productive” work of the Special Envoy in having facilitated the comprehensive political talks.  However, it was regrettable that the talks had not coincided with a lasting ceasefire.  Emphasizing that his delegation saw no alternative to a political settlement, he expressed hope that the committee coordinating de-escalation, comprising military advisers to the parties, would ensure reconciliation as soon as possible.  Stressing the importance of unimpeded humanitarian access, he said that, since the beginning of the conflict, the Russian Federation had insisted upon humanitarian pauses as a critical matter, adding that his country had provided humanitarian assistance.  Welcoming the agreement in Switzerland on the exchange of prisoners, he underlined the need to create “a context of mutual confidence”, citing the joint struggle against the terrorist threat as a common issue.  All Yemeni forces must unite and push back against terrorism, he said, adding that his delegation expected a “ratcheting up” of efforts for the beginning of substantive talks about a withdrawal of forces and the rebuilding of Yemen.

JOÃO IAMBENO GIMOLIECA (Angola) welcomed the ceasefire agreement brokered last week, stressing that, after a year of fighting, the warring sides must seize such opportunities.  However, it was unfortunate that the ceasefire had been violated during the peace talks.  Acknowledging that the process would take time and patience, he welcomed the Special Envoy’s announcement that a new round of talks would be held on 14 January 2016, and urged the parties to respect the safety of civilians, as well as calls for a permanent ceasefire.

GERARD VAN BOHEMEN (New Zealand) said he had hoped for greater progress in the Switzerland talks on the humanitarian and human rights situation in Yemen, but it was encouraging that some areas of agreement had been found and there was a commitment to resume talks in mid-January.  It was important that the ceasefire be respected and extended to facilitate further humanitarian access, he said, noting that hostilities in and around civilian areas, including the use of heavy weapons, had inflicted an unacceptably high toll on the civilian population.  On the regional level, weapons flows from Yemen into Somalia and elsewhere threatened stability amid mounting evidence that such groups as Al-Qaida and ISIL were the principal beneficiaries of instability and conflict.  However, efforts to prevent the flow of arms into Yemen were inhibiting access for desperately needed imported goods.  New Zealand supported the development of a United Nations verification and inspection mechanism, and hoped that, with its implementation, the passage of commercial supplies into Yemen would be eased.

CRISTIÁN BARROS MELET (Chile) said the information provided depicted a serious deterioration in the situation in Yemen, adding that he was alarmed by reported violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.  Condemning the use of heavy weapons in densely populated area and denouncing the bombardment of schools, as well as the alleged use of cluster munitions, he appealed to the parties to respect international law.  Chile supported the recommendation to set up an independent mechanism to investigate all violations of humanitarian law and human rights law, he said, pointing out, however, that humanitarian assistance helped to relieve symptoms, but was not a cure.  Urging the parties to resume negotiations in January without preconditions, he said the crisis in Yemen could only end through a political solution.  The threat posed by Al-Qaida and Da’esh should not be neglected, he warned.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said Yemen had been sliding into a humanitarian and political crisis and any progress was welcome.  France, therefore, welcomed the Switzerland talks, in particular the establishment of a committee to oversee the ceasefire and the establishment of humanitarian access to Taiz.  Since the ceasefire was still being violated, there must be an enduring and immediate ceasefire, he emphasized.  The January negotiations would provide an opportunity to create an inclusive compromise that should allow for the relaunching of the transition process, as requested in resolution 2216 (2015), the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative and the National Dialogue outcomes.  Describing the humanitarian situation as appalling, he said the mechanism use for providing humanitarian assistance to Taiz be used in other cities.  The human rights situation was also atrocious, he said, noting that the terrorist threat posed by Da’esh was not only a threat to the region, but a threat to the rest of the world.

SAMANTHA POWER (United States), Council President, spoke in her national capacity, saying that the Council was united in support of Yemen and the efforts of the Special Envoy, who had facilitated the resumption of peace talks.  The United States would work with other Council members to hold all sides to their commitments, she said, adding that the Council was also united on a vision of what should happen next:  all sides must do more to facilitate access for life-saving assistance and shipments of basic commercial goods.  In some governorates, nearly every resident required aid, she noted.  Access could be improved in the absence of a political agreement and the time needed to unload critical supplies must be shortened.  The verification and inspection mechanism must become operational to facilitate fuel and other needed shipments, she said, emphasizing that the Houthis must allow access into Taiz.

The Council reaffirmed that the crisis would be solved through political dialogue, a sign of progress that reinforced resolution 2216 (2015), which called for a consensus-based political solution built on dialogue.  The parties must demonstrate flexibility and adhere to compromises once the talks concluded.  As the transition took shape, it must incorporate armed groups, Yemeni women and representatives of civil society, who must be able to leave Yemen to participate in the peace talks.  The Council made clear that all sides must commit to a lasting ceasefire and send empowered representatives to the coordination and de-escalation committee.  Militias must stop indiscriminate shelling and cross-border attacks, and the Saudi-led coalition must investigate all credible reports of civilian casualties.

KHALED HUSSEIN MOHAMED ALYEMANY (Yemen) said another chapter of peace efforts had been closed on the basis of resolution 2216 (2015), which aimed to undo the “putsch” by the Houthis and alleviate the suffering of millions of Yemenis.  Success had been achieved through consultations in Switzerland, yet there was a “lack of readiness” on the part of the “putschists”, who had not been authorized to engage effectively to achieve what had been approved in the talks.  Yemen looked to the international community and the sponsors of the political dialogue to bring more pressure to bear so as to allow humanitarian delivery, especially to Taiz, which had been blockaded to the point of genocide.  He said he looked forward to a major role for the United Nations and the Red Crescent in the release of detainees, which could serve as a building block.

For its part, Yemen sought to revive commercial activity, he said, adding that the Government had agreed in August with the United Nations and coalition forces on the implementation of the verification and inspection mechanism.  However, financial and organizational impediments that had nothing to do with Yemen’s Government had prevented its becoming operational.  Shipments from the port of Aden destined for the country’s northern and central parts had been plundered by warlords, he said.  Another port had supplies awaiting shipment, but the “putschists” had engaged in political blackmail to prevent their movement.  The Government would spare no effort to deliver food, medicine and other supplies throughout the country, he vowed, underlining its commitment to end the conflict.

He went on to describe violations by Houthi and Al Saleh militias as flagrant, saying they engaged in abductions, threats and intimidation of young men, merchants and businessmen, upon whom they imposed charges.  The militias had also imprisoned journalists, many of whom had been subjected to torture.  They visited schools to recruit children, he said, expressing hope that the “putschists” would engage in the 14 January negotiations in a credible manner.  Confidence-building measures should be taken ahead of the talks, especially the release of political detainees and the removal of impediments to aid and the delivery of commercial goods.

For information media. Not an official record.