“Sincere political will, responsible leadership and respect for the interests of the entire population are needed,” he said.
Mr Grundberg highlighted recent fighting, which he described as “some of the worst … seen in Yemen in years”.
Grundberg to #UNSC“The continued imposition of road closures and checkpoints across the country, as well as barriers to the importation and domestic distribution of goods essential to citizens, including fuel, is harming the population in unjustifiable ways.”
– @OSE_Yemen (@OSE_Yemen) January 12, 2022
He highlighted attacks on Marib, airstrikes in Taiz and the crucial port city of Hudaydah, increased attacks on Saudi Arabia and the recent seizure by Houthi troops, known as Ansar Allah, of an Emirati-flagged ship.
The UN envoy expressed concern at the continued detention of UN personnel in Sana’a and Marib and called for “immediate access” to them and more official information about their condition.
Meanwhile, as the pace of war increases, so do fears of the worsening of severe restrictions on movement and allegations that the ports in the Hudaydah district are being “militarized”, mainly because they are “a lifeline for many Yemenis” who rely on them for imported aid, he said.
“Restrictions on the movement of goods and people pose a challenge across Yemen,” he said, pointing to road closures, checkpoints and clearances for fuel ships, the latest of which was issued in November, adding that they “harm the population in unjustified ways” .
Opening a ceasefire
Amid significant challenges on the ground, Mr. Grundberg explored ways to address the parties’ “declared priorities” and end the fighting.
However, he insisted that “disagreements over order, competing priorities and lack of trust” remain obstacles, further underscoring the need for “difficult discussions with and among the belligerents”.
Aiming at facilitating gradual progress towards a lasting political settlement, the special envoy explained that he had focused on developing a comprehensive, multi-track approach encompassing political, security and economic issues.
“To have a chance of breaking this cycle, we must build an inclusive, internationally supported political process that can provide a viable foundation for peace,” he said.
Little reason for optimism
UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Ramesh Rajasingham, who is also acting Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, painted a grim picture that does not offer “much cause for optimism”.
He listed a series of hardships, from 15,000 displaced in the past month to an alarming increase in clashes, which reportedly killed or injured 358 civilians in December.
“The war is also causing hunger, displacement, economic collapse and the deterioration of basic services,” he said.
Women in the crosshairs
While Yemen has consistently been at or near the bottom of global gender equality indices, even before the crisis, the war has made the situation of women and girls worse, the UN official said.
“This manifests itself in myriad ways, including restrictions on basic rights such as freedom of movement, reduced access to education, and higher rates of illiteracy and poverty,” he explained.
In addition, access to health care is more limited – “with a woman dying every two hours during childbirth from almost completely preventable causes”.
“And exposure to sexual and gender-based violence has also increasedadded Mr Rajasingham.
Humanitarians under control
As people struggle to survive, humanitarian work is constantly hampered “for completely avoidable reasons,” he said, turning to restrictions, the biggest of which is funding.
“Last year’s response plan was 58 percent funded, making it the lowest-funded call for Yemen since 2015,” the deputy emergency coordinator said, recalling that the lack of financial support had forced the World Food Program (WFP) into effect.WFP) nasty to announce food savings for eight million people.
“We expect this year’s relief operation will require about the same amount of money as last year, or about $3.9 billion to help 16 million people,” he continued, appealing to donors for more support.
Humanitarian access, security and interference also remain challenges, with lingering bureaucratic barriers delaying aid and disproportionately affecting women and girls.
The UN official reiterated the importance of a “safe, predictable passage into and out of Yemen”, noting that disturbances such as the opposition of the Houthi rebels (formally known as Ansar Allah) have unilaterally canceled flights from December 19 to 27. at the Sana’a airport they control, threatening to undermine relief operations and the safety of personnel.
Meanwhile, Ansar Allah has yet to grant access to two UN staff detained in Sana’a in November, or a third arrested in Marib last month, and the UN continues to look for a “pragmatic, workable solution” to a to end the grave danger posed by the Safer oil tanker, a stranded and stricken ship that threatens an environmental disaster for the Red Sea.
Finally, Mr. Rajasingham emphasized the importance of delivering “a more effective and inclusive response – including by strengthening the economy to reduce people’s needs”.
This means “a more empowering environment for female responders, promoting gender equality among our staff and supporting greater investment in gender-sensitive programming,” he said.
However, the senior official acknowledged, humanitarian aid alone cannot solve the crisis in Yemen, admitting that conflict-induced economic collapse is the biggest driver of people’s needs.
“The UN economic framework…requires a mix of financial and political commitments that … can rapidly reduce the magnitude of humanitarian needs,” he said. “The exchange rate is key to people’s ability to pay for food and other essential goods, almost all of which must be imported.”
But commitments also include policy decisions to lift import restrictions and use import revenues for basic services of public institutions to lower prices and improve people’s lives.
“The most profound change will come when the fighting backed by a lasting and just peace agreement comes to an end,” concluded Mr Rajasingham.
amplifying women’s voices
Ola Al-Aghbary, founder and CEO of Sheba Youth Foundation for Development and a local mediator in the city of Taiz, said women have the right to participate actively in political and peacebuilding processes.
She outlined tangible benefits Yemeni women have provided to their communities, while also noting that women’s organizations there were underused in decision-making.