Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks at the closing of the intra-Yemeni consultations, in Rimbo, Sweden, today:
I would like to thank Foreign Minister Margot Wallström and the Swedish Government for hosting this event and for your warm welcome. I would also like to thank my Special Envoy Martin Griffiths and his team for their tireless efforts in this endeavour. Many Governments played a crucial role to make this happen. I would like to thank the Saudi-led coalition, the Sultanate of Oman and the Government of Kuwait for their concrete support to make this happen and also the international community and especially the group of ambassadors to Yemen that have been here in Sweden to support these talks. Your input has been very valuable. But most of all, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to you, distinguished members of the Yemeni delegations. Thank you for coming here to discuss a better future for Yemen. What you have achieved so far is an important step for the people of Yemen and I thank you.
The conflict in Yemen has been going on for four years now. Four devastating years of suffering for the Yemeni people. As we all know, Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. More than 24 million people – three quarters of the population – need some form of assistance and protection. Some 20 million people are food insecure and 10 million of these people do not know how they will obtain their next meal.
You, the parties present here today, have the possibility to change this. You have the future of Yemen in your hands and we have a precious opportunity and I am glad to see that you have made real progress here in Sweden. You have been working hard during this week and it has yielded several important results. That is an achievement, but there are also pending issues and we will move on with those pending issues without interruption. We want to make sure that we make progress at any moment for the benefit of the Yemeni people.
I spoke to President [Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi Mansour] this morning and he expressed his full support and appreciation of all the accomplishments you have made here, and I thank him for this. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank the leadership of Ansarallah and their allies for their constructive engagement with our proposals.
You have reached an agreement on Hodeidah port and city, which will see a mutual re-deployment of forces from the port and the city, and the establishment of a Governorate-wide ceasefire. The United Nations will play a leading role in the port. This will facilitate the humanitarian access and the flow of goods to the civilian population. It will improve the living conditions for millions of Yemenis. You have reached a mutual understanding to ease the situation in Taizz. We hope this will lead to the opening of humanitarian corridors and the facilitation of demining.
Before you came here, you had already agreed on a prisoners’ exchange. Now, you have agreed on a timeline and details for implementing the exchange, allowing thousands - I repeat, thousands - of Yemenis to be reunited with their families. And finally, a very important step for the peace process, you have agreed to engage in the discussions on a negotiating framework in the next meeting. This is a critical element of any future political settlement to end the conflict.
Based on your constructive engagement here in Sweden, we have a better understanding of the positions of the parties and you have agreed to meet again to continue to discuss this further at the end of January during the next round of negotiations. But, between now and January, we will always be available to go on discussing and trying to reach progress in all the dossiers that are still pending for discussion and agreement.
What you have agreed here will mean a lot for the future of Yemen. It will mean a lot for the Yemeni people who will see concrete results in their daily lives and allow me to make a personal statement and to pay a personal tribute to the people of Yemen. I was High Commissioner for Refugees for 10 years and during these 10 years, I visited Yemen several times. Somali refugees were coming to Yemen – a country that is of course a poor country and with enormous problems. The borders of Yemen, the doors of the Yemeni people, the hearts of Yemeni people were always open to Somali refugees. They were granted prima facie refugee status and when we look at the world today and the difficulties refugees face in so many parts of the world, we need to pay tribute to the generosity, to the hospitality of the Yemeni people.
The Yemeni people have demonstrated a solidarity with other people in need that deserves our tribute and that deserves us to do everything possible, as the international community, to support Yemenis in finding Yemeni solutions for their own problems. The agreements today mean a lot, not only for the Yemeni people, but for humanity if this can be a starting point for peace and for ending the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Shukran. Thank you very much.