UN Special Envoy’s remarks to the press following the Security Council session on Yemen

@OSESGY/Alaa Malhas

24 Nov 2022

UN Special Envoy’s remarks to the press following the Security Council session on Yemen

Good afternoon. It is very good to be back in New York and see you all.

I have just briefed the Security Council on my mediation efforts and the latest developments in Yemen. And I would like to take this opportunity to highlight a few points:

First, on my mediation efforts, I briefed the Security Council on my ongoing discussions with the parties, as well as regional countries, on the renewal and expansion of the truce and also options for a pathway to a more comprehensive settlement of the conflict.

While I, at this moment, urge the parties to renew and expand the truce, I remain convinced that only an inclusive, Yemeni-owned political process under UN auspices can give Yemen a chance to achieving sustainable peace.

On developments on the ground in Yemen, I briefed the Council that despite the formal expiration of the truce on the 2nd of October, we have fortunately not seen a return to full-fledged war. And this has allowed for the elements operated under the truce – notably the regular flights between Amman and Sana’a International Airport and also the fuel deliveries to the Hudaydah port – to continue over the past seven weeks for the benefit of the Yemeni population.

We have however seen concerning incidents, including in Marib and Taiz involving civilian casualties. In my statement, I also informed the Council that the recent attacks carried out by Ansar Allah against oil terminals and ports in Shabwa and Hadramawt represent a particularly worrying developments given their economic repercussions. And I condemned these attacks already on the 22nd of October and I repeat my call for maximum restraint during this critical time.

Finally, it is my hope that the ongoing discussions yield positive results as soon as possible to put Yemen on a path toward a just and sustainable peace.

Thank you very much.

Questions and Answers

Question: Hi. My name is Ibtisam Azen from Al Araby Al Jadeed Newspaper. So I have two questions. The first one, you talked to the Security Council about the fact that you are having difficulties to renew the truce, but you would like to see a comprehensive settlement. So my question here how do you want to get there if you are not even able to convince the parties to renew the truce and could you explain to us what are the main obstacles on getting where you want to get. And the second question is on the issue you mentioned about women and restrictions of movement in, if I’m not mistaken, it was in northern Yemen and that includes also UN Women. Could you please also elaborate on that. How does that exactly look and what you are hearing from why is this happening? Thank you.

Special Envoy Hans Grundberg: Thank you. On the first question, so since the 2nd of October until today, my Office and myself we have been in ongoing in constant contact with the parties and engage with them on the issues, especially on the issues on the reasons why we did not see an agreement in the first place on the proposal that was a submitted to them in the end of September 2022. And these discussions are making progress that they are ongoing, and we are also seeing a support from the region and from the broad international community in helping us in this regard, but so far we have not come to a conclusion and that is the aim. But when I also mentioned to broaden the issue, it is a way for me to remind everyone that the truce in itself is not the endgame. The truce is only, it’s not, it cannot be seen as the long-term solution. The long-term solution is the return to political process, where the parties engage on long-term settlement of the conflict and that necessitates a broader approach and that is what we are also looking for in engaging with the parties on.

On the issue of inclusivity, the need for the passes that I did in the open session on my focus on the difficulty that we see for women both in terms of representation in the political talks and also on the broader level, there I also highlighted the difficulty of access that we have seen in north of Yemen regarding Yemeni women that is also having an effect on the work of international organizations and also the United Nations and that is something that I think we know it would concern. Thanks

(Cont’d) Question: Just quickly, what, I mean I didn’t hear you saying what are these issues that are standing on the way to getting, whether from the Houthi or the Coalition or the Government, that standing on getting to renew the truce?

Special Envoy Hans Grundberg: (cont’d) On the truce you mean in terms of, whether it stands on the way. No, I think that, on that, I’m not going to enter into, what do they say, they say that foreign policy should be made in the open, because that is for, the population needs to understand what the foreign policy of any country represents, but negotiations should be kept in a discrete setting. So I’m not going to in- to outlining the issues in detail on where we stand on these negotiations, because that needs some level of trust and confidentiality in order to giving the results. But on a broader level where we are seeing challenges in how to frame issues related to the economic matters such as the payment of salaries and also broader issues which have an implication on the more long-term settlement of the conflict, and that perhaps illustrates the difficulty in terms of reaching and prolongation of the truce which is a short term measure to something more long-term which is leading and taking series steps towards a settlement of the conflict and a political process and a real ceasefire, and that I think in broad is the challenges that we are working on right now.

Question: My name is Afrom Qusayfy from Arab News Daily. You just said the negotiations should be kept and should be conducted discretely, but I’m still going to ask you my question. The talks we heard about between the Saudis and the Houthis which happened last month, we didn’t hear you talk about it today at the Security Council, but can you tell us something about it, is there some takeaway from those talks. Do you see these talks happening again. Anything you can tell us about what they represent, what they mean. And then I have another question later.

Special Envoy Hans Grundberg: On that, any direct contact between diligent parties in any conflict I think is welcome. And I think that should be encouraged. The parties should talk to each other. Obviously then that can be done in different ways, but what we are looking for here is an approach which in the end requires a process under the UN auspices, so any talks that are carried out in support of my efforts are always welcome and this is something that I repeat to the countries in the region, I repeat to the Council, and so on, and this what we are having right now. We have different engagements on different levels through different channels that support the efforts of the United Nations, and that is something that I think is helpful. Thanks.

(Cont’d) Question: I’m asking you as someone who has been engaging with the Houthis for a while, you probably know their way of thinking more than so many other people. When you see all these attacks that the Security Council members today were hammering on and talking about, when you see them conduct these attacks, what’s your thinking, how do you take, what’s your take on those attacks on ports, maritime routes, neighboring countries, how do you read that?

Special Envoy, Hans Grundberg: I don’t understand how I, the question is a bit unclear. How do you mean, how do I read?

(Cont’d) Question: What’s your take on the number of attacks they keep conducting?

Special Envoy, Hans Grundberg: No that they are part of the overall elements of the conflict. That's clear. And we, my point here is that this conflict needs to be settled through negotiation, and that’s why any attempt on trying to settle the conflict through violent exchanges no matter how that violent exchange takes place is unhelpful, especially given the fact that we have seen a conflict that has lost four, seven to eight years, by now I think, also I understand that more violence is not going to lead to a long-term settlement and that can only be achieved through negotiations and through direct talks, and that is what we are pushing for and hope to achieve the settlement. Thank you very much. Thanks.