Statement by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the Security Council Briefing on Yemen
15 October 2020
I wish to thank Special Envoy Mr. Griffiths, and USG Mr. Lowcock for their briefings.
In the past two years, the situation in Yemen has seen twists and turns. The international community and the Yemeni parties have made a lot of efforts to find a political solution to the Yemeni issue. With the adoption of the Stockholm Agreement and the Riyadh Agreement, some progress has been achieved. Meanwhile, we have also noted that the relevant agreements have not been effectively implemented. Recently, conflicts in many governorates have escalated, with severe lack of mutual trust among the parties and a political process in deadlock combined with worsening humanitarian crisis. China finds these deeply worrying. We hope that the Yemeni parties will have a greater sense of urgency and show political will to jointly promote a breakthrough in the peace process in Yemen.
First, to achieve a ceasefire as soon as possible. In the general debate of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, Secretary-General Guterres reiterated the Global Ceasefire Appeal, calling for a global ceasefire by the end of the year. China supports the Secretary-General’s appeal and hopes that the Security Council and the international community will play an active role to increase mediation efforts in conflict situations including Yemen and provide strong support to the work of the Secretary-General and his special envoy. Both the Yemeni government and the coalition have expressed support for the Secretary-General’s ceasefire appeal, which deserves our recognition. We hope that all parties in Yemen will put the interests of the people and the future of the country first, respond to the people’s desire for peace and stability, immediately stop using force and return to the track of dialogue and negotiation. China is concerned over the missile and drone attacks against Saudi Arabia, and the escalation of conflicts in areas such as Hudeydah. UNMHA should fulfill its mandate to monitor the ceasefire in accordance with the requests of the Security Council resolutions.
Second, to honor the political commitments, the Stockholm Agreement and the Riyadh Agreement have shown the tremendous efforts made by all parties, and therefore cannot be left as empty words. The parties to the conflict cannot always go back and forth between the battlefield and the negotiating table in a vicious circle of fighting and talking. The key is to implement the agreements reached. This is conducive to building mutual trust among the parties, and also serves as the basis for new progress. The issue in the south has a bearing on the overall situation in Yemen. China highly commends Saudi Arabia’s contribution for advancing the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement and supports Saudi Arabia in continuing its important role. With the mediation of the Special Envoy and the ICRC, the Yemeni government and the Houthis recently reached agreement on prisoner exchange, and today we see major progress. China welcomes this very much, and hopes that more confidence-building measures will be undertaken.
Third, to strengthen regional security dialogue. A political solution to the Yemeni issue requires a favorable regional security environment. China advocates the solution of the regional issues through dialogue and consultation among the countries in the Gulf region, to build a platform for dialogue among regional countries, and to forge new consensus on maintaining regional peace and stability. Other countries have also put forward similar ideas. We see consensus on the general direction and therefore should work together to turn these ideas into reality and promote the regional peace process. China encourages relevant countries in the region to use their own advantages to exert positive influence over the parties in Yemen and make contributions to the political settlement of the Yemeni issue. At the same time, Yemen’s sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity must be fully respected and upheld.
Fourth, to make every effort to alleviate the humanitarian crisis. Currently more than 20 million people in Yemen are facing food security risks, with at least one medium women and two million children severely malnourished. The Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Food Program have repeatedly issued famine warnings. More than two thousand cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Yemen, while the actual number of infections is far greater. China urges all parties in actual control to abide by international humanitarian law, to put people and their lives first and protect civilians, particularly the vulnerable groups, and provide safe and unhindered humanitarian access. This includes allowing the UN to conduct safety assessment and repair for the SAFER oil tanker as soon as possible.
The international community, particularly the donor countries, should provide sufficient funding to the Yemen humanitarian response plan by honoring their pledges as soon as possible. Every effort should be made to avoid famine in Yemen, protect farmland, agricultural production facilities, maintain the operation of commercial ports and effectively handle the locust plagues and floods. We must support the WHO in playing a leading role in fighting the pandemic and saving lives.
China has always stood by the Yemeni people. We have provided several batches of food aid to Yemen, covering most of its governorates. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we have donated several batches of supplies for pandemic response to the government and people of Yemen and have proactively shared our experience of fighting the pandemic. In the future, we will continue to provide rice, medical equipment and other humanitarian assistance to the government and people of Yemen, and work with the Gulf countries and the international community to contribute to alleviating the humanitarian crisis.
Thank you, Mr. President.