Statement by H.E. Ms Isabella Lövin, Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden.
Mr Secretary-General, Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to thank all of you for attending this important conference. The Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen now requires three billion US dollars to be fully financed, almost a billion more than when we gathered here a year ago. This reflects the tragic fact that things are changing for the worse, with a staggering 75 per cent of the Yemeni population – 22 million people – now in need of humanitarian assistance.
More than three million children have been born in Yemen since this conflict started in 2015. During the same period, an average of five children have been killed or injured every day in one of the world’s worst man-made conflicts. Close to 1.8 million children are acutely malnourished, and nearly two million girls and boys are unable to attend school. Children’s rights are also violated in other ways. They risk being recruited as child soldiers and are vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence.
The economy is spiralling downwards with a liquidity crisis that further aggravates the situation. Add to this the breakdown of public institutions and basic health care services, with severe cholera and diphtheria outbreaks, and the only conclusion can be that we must act now and we must focus on the most immediate needs.
We urge all countries to channel their humanitarian funding to the UN-led response which will guarantee that it reaches the people in need regardless of their political, religious and ethnic affiliation or geographic location. In 2018, Sweden has already disbursed approximately 26 million US dollars to the response plan. We are also one of the world’s largest donors to humanitarian operations through our un-earmarked financing, including to the Central Emergency Response Fund. This kind of flexible funding allows for a need-based approach and caters for needs both in forgotten, protracted crisis as well as sudden onset crises.
The pledge made by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will contribute significantly to the response plan, and we welcome additional pledges today. However, no amount of funds will be sufficient without safe, rapid and unhindered access for food, fuel and medical supplies, as well as humanitarian personnel, to all affected areas. The importance of Hodeidah port remains fundamental and it must, together with all other seaports and Sana’a airport, be fully accessible to humanitarian and commercial goods. The United Nations Verification and Inspection Mechanism plays an important role in this regard and has our full support, which is why Sweden today pledges approximately 360 000 US dollars to the extension of its operation.
Two weeks ago, the Swedish Government’s Special Envoy for the Yemen Crisis visited Aden and Sana’a with the much-appreciated assistance of the International Committee of the Red Cross. The visit included valuable discussions with aid workers who risk their lives delivering humanitarian assistance to people in need in Yemen. Later today, we will have a panel discussion on humanitarian access in Yemen which remains one of the key obstacles to an effective response, I encourage you all to participate.
Excellencies, distinguished delegates, Mr Secretary-General,
Let me end by repeating that this is a man-made crisis. This makes the suffering of the people of Yemen even more tragic. In parallel with the humanitarian short-term efforts, there must be redoubled efforts towards a political solution. Only then will we be able to fully address the humanitarian crisis and Yemen’s development needs. The UN Security Council emphasised this as recently as 15 March in its presidential statement. This statement, this statement that Sweden helped to draft, underlined the urgent humanitarian and security situation on the ground, but perhaps more importantly, it addressed the immediate steps needed to improve the situation and alleviate the suffering. I would contend that the statement constitutes the strongest humanitarian Security Council response on Yemen to date. Sweden lends its full support to the newly assigned UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths and his efforts to reach a new cessation of hostilities and a negotiated political agreement. We cannot emphasise enough that the inclusion of women in the political dialogue in a meaningful way will increase the likelihood of success.
On behalf of the Swedish Government, I thank you all for attending this event. Your presence is an important signal to people in Yemen that the international community cares. Finally, let me reiterate that peace is the only long term solution to this crisis.