Disheartening that there is no end in sight to decade-long conflict in Yemen: India

India has said it is disheartening that there is no end in sight to the decade-long conflict in Yemen and stressed that a peaceful political settlement that takes into account legitimate concerns of all stakeholders is the only way forward.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti noted with concern that formidable economic, security and political challenges confronting the people of Yemen have only increased leaving them in acute need of humanitarian assistance.

Tirumurti, speaking at the UN Security Council Briefing on Middle East (Yemen) on Thursday, said it is “disheartening” to see that even a decade later, the conflict in Yemen still has no end in sight.

“Today, a sizeable population of the country does not have reliable access to food. Malnourishment among children has reached high levels, which will only worsen with the forecast of famine. The underlying factors contributing to the humanitarian situation in Yemen need to be urgently addressed,” he said.

In a warning to the Council, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said malnutrition rates in Yemen are at “record highs” as the country is “speeding towards the worst famine the world has seen in decades.”

“We are running out of time,” Lowcock said adding that across Yemen, more than 16 million people are going hungry, five million of whom are “just one step away from famine.” He warned that if Yemen “tips into a massive famine”, an opportunity towards lasting peace would be lost.

Tirumurti stressed that the “most pressing issue” of all is the need to end the conflict as he pointed out that grave food insecurity and hunger are clustered in areas affected by the conflict. He expressed deep concern over the renewed hostilities in Marib and Al Jawf, triggered by recent military operations of Ansarallah, and continuing civilian casualties in Hudaydah.

India called on all parties to immediately eschew violence and implement the ceasefire provisions of the Hudaydah Agreement.

“The hostilities must end immediately facilitating a nationwide ceasefire between the parties. As has been evident from the continuing turmoil in the country, there can be no military solution to the conflict,” Tirumurti said.

“A peaceful political settlement through broad-based dialogue and consultations, taking into account the legitimate concerns and aspirations of all stakeholders in Yemen, is the only way forward,” he said.

India also condemned the attack on Abha International Airport in Saudi Arabia and said the targeting of a civilian airport is a violation of international law and cannot be justified for any reason whatsoever.

“We also condemn the missile and drone attacks in Saudi Arabia in recent weeks, which pose a risk to the security of that country and also threaten regional stability. I reiterate India’s call for the strict implementation of the arms embargo envisaged in resolution 2216 to effectively eliminate such threats in the future,” the Indian envoy said.

India commended efforts of the United Nations Mission to Support the Hudaydah Agreement (UNMHA) in engaging the parties to defuse the situation in Hudaydah governorate and called on all parties to remove restrictions on UNMHA’s movement to facilitate their patrolling.

“The preservation and full implementation of the Stockholm Agreement is even more critical today to ensure smooth commercial and humanitarian imports into Yemen,” he said.

The Stockholm agreement, a voluntary accord between the parties of the conflict in Yemen, was agreed upon in December 2018. It has three main components -agreement on the city of Hudaydah and the ports of Hudaydah, Salif and Ras Issa; an executive mechanism on activating the prisoner exchange agreement and a statement of understanding on Taiz.

He also said that while the larger goal of national reconciliation and sustainable peace is under consideration, the immediate dire economic, health and humanitarian situation should be effectively addressed.

“Any international assistance provided to Yemeni people should be impartial, irrespective of who controls the territory they live in. This assistance should also take into account and address the prevailing COVID-19 situation in Yemen.”

Tirumurti emphasised the need to ensure that terrorist forces do not take advantage of the continuing conflict.

Tirumurti also expressed disappointment over the continued stasis on the SAFER issue.

SAFER is a Floating Storage and Offloading (FSO) oil vessel moored off Yemen’s west coast, approximately 8 kilometres South West of the Ras Isa peninsula on the West coast of Yemen, permanently anchored at the same location for more than 30 years without any dry-docking or shipyard repairs.

The tanker is reportedly holding nearly 1.1 million barrels of oil – about four times as much oil as spilled from the Exxon Valdez in 1989.

Tirumurti said the UN team of experts must be provided immediate access to SAFER so as to avert an environmental and humanitarian disaster.

“I also encourage the UN not to get bogged down by technicalities and react nimbly whenever a window of opportunity opens up in future to resolve the issue.”

Underling India’s centuries-old relations with Yemen, he said India’s doors have always been open for the people of Yemen even during these challenging times of COVID pandemic and New Delhi remains committed to extending humanitarian help to Sana’a.

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