July 2022 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 July 2022
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MIDDLE EAST

Yemen

Expected Council Action

In July, the Security Council will hold its monthly briefing and consultations on Yemen. UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg, the head of the UN Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA), General Michael Beary and a representative of OCHA are expected to brief. The Council is expected to renew the mandate of UNMHA, which expires on 15 July.

Key Recent Developments

On 2 June, the parties to Yemen’s conflict agreed to a two-month extension of the truce agreement, which had been in effect since 2 April and was set to expire later that day. Security Council members issued a press statement welcoming the extension and expressing the hope that the truce could be translated into a durable ceasefire.

Ahead of the truce extension, Grundberg organised a meeting of representatives of the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebel group in Amman, Jordan, from 26 to 28 May to discuss options for opening key roads in Taiz and other governorates. Improving movement in and out of Taiz city, which has been under a Houthi siege, is an important element of the truce agreement. At a second meeting, held from 5 to 6 June, Grundberg shared an updated proposal with the parties for the phased opening of roads, including the main route from Taiz city to the Hawban area east of the city. The proposal also contained plans for an implementation mechanism and commitments to the safety of civilian travellers.

On 28 May and 6 June, the Office of the Special Envoy for Yemen also convened the first two meetings of the military coordination committee in Amman. These meetings brought together military representatives of the Yemeni government, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, which supports the government and the Houthis. The committee agreed to meet monthly and set up a joint coordination room to address issues of concern in a timely manner, according to Grundberg’s briefing at the Council’s 14 June meeting on Yemen.

On 13 June, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen David Gressly launched a crowdfunding campaign to help raise the $80 million required to start the first phase of a UN-facilitated plan to transfer the oil on the decrepit FSO Safer oil tanker, which is moored off Houthi-held Ras Isa port in the Red Sea, to a temporary vessel. Recent pledges from the US and Saudi Arabia of $10 million each brought total donor commitments to about $60 million. The crowdsourcing campaign seeks to raise an additional $5 million in individual donations for the operation to prevent a catastrophic oil spill if the vessel breaks up.

During the 14 June briefing, Grundberg highlighted positive effects of the truce. Civilian casualties have declined significantly, though there has been a rise in victims of landmines and unexploded ordnance as more people have begun to move around. Eight commercial round-trip flights have transported 2,795 passengers from Sana’a to Amman and Cairo since the truce agreement, and more fuel entered Hodeidah ports in April and May than during all of last year, alleviating Yemen’s fuel crisis. Grundberg reported that the Yemeni government had responded positively to his proposal for the phased opening of roads in Taiz and other governorates, but that he was still waiting for the Houthis’ response. Grundberg said that over the following six weeks his focus would be on promoting the implementation and consolidation of all the elements of the truce. He also planned to initiate negotiations on the economic and security tracks of the multitrack framework that he has been developing for an inclusive political process to end the conflict.

OCHA Acting Operations Director Ghada Eltahir Mudawi also briefed during the meeting. Despite the truce, Yemen’s humanitarian crisis could worsen because of the rise in global food prices, to which Yemen is particularly vulnerable since it imports nearly all its food. Mudawi flagged an increase in restrictions on the movement of aid agencies in recent months and misinformation campaigns, both of which make relief work more difficult. She also noted that the 2022 Yemen humanitarian response plan is only funded at 26 percent.

Beary delivered his first in-person briefing to members in closed consultations. In a letter dated 14 June, the Secretary-General submitted his annual review of UNMHA to the Council. It highlighted that the mission is operating in a significantly changed military and political landscape since the withdrawal in November 2021 of the Yemeni government-affiliated Joint Forces from Hodeidah city and the establishment of new frontlines about 100 kilometres further south. The letter noted several future critical functions for the mission. These include maintaining the civilian nature of Hodeidah’s ports and for UNMHA to continue increasing its monitoring of the ports. Given the new frontlines, UNMHA should expand its footprint to the south, according to the review, and the mission has an agreement with the Yemeni government on establishing a permanent presence in the Joint Forces-held city of Mokha. Another key role, according to the review, will be to enhance its coordination of mine-action activities.

In press elements after the meeting, Council members welcomed the parties’ discussions about the truce’s implementation and reiterated their call for urgent progress in negotiations on Taiz.

During June, news reports said that the Houthis and Saudi Arabia had resumed virtual talks, facilitated by Oman, on future relations under any peace deal and security along the Yemen-Saudi Arabia border.

Sanctions-Related Developments

In a 17 May letter, the Secretary-General informed the Council that he had appointed three members to the Yemen Panel of Experts, nationals from Germany, India and Liberia as the arms, finance and international humanitarian law experts, respectively. The two other experts, on armed groups and on regional matters, would be appointed as soon as possible, according to the letter.

On 10 June, the 2140 Yemen Sanctions Committee held consultations with Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Virginia Gamba.

Human Rights-Related Developments

In a 3 June press briefing, a spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Human Rights noted that “for the past two months, a truce has meant the people of Yemen have seen violence and hostilities decrease”. Between 2 April and 1 June, the UN Human Rights Office in Yemen gathered preliminary information indicating that at least 19 civilians had been killed and 32 injured in some 20 incidents of conflict-related violence, with the majority of casualties being caused by landmines, the spokesperson said. The spokesperson also urged the parties “to make serious efforts to ensure that roads into the city of [Taiz] are reopened”.

Women, Peace and Security

Ahead of the 14 June meeting on Yemen, Ambassador Ferit Hoxha (Albania) delivered a press statement on behalf of a group of Council members that have committed to implementing a set of pledges on women, peace and security during their respective Council presidencies. (The group comprises Albania, Brazil, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, Norway, the United Arab Emirates, and the UK.) The statement expressed support for Grundberg’s efforts to consult with a diverse group of actors, including Yemeni women, and called on all parties to ensure the “full, equal and meaningful participation of women in the peace process in Yemen”. Among other issues, Hoxha expressed concern at the impact of the war in Ukraine on the global food market, which, through growing shortages of basic foods and rising prices, affects the economic situation of women, especially in rural areas. He also expressed deep concern at the evidence of a Houthi policy to target politically active women and urged all conflict parties “to adopt commitments to prevent and address conflict-related sexual violence”.

Azal Al-Salafi, protection and advocacy officer at The Peace Track Initiative, briefed the Council during the 14 June meeting on Yemen, providing additional perspective on gender issues. Among other recommendations, Al-Salafi urged the Council to continue to call for inclusive peace talks and to support the creation of a permanent Gender Advisor post in the Special Envoy’s office, appointing an expert with strong feminist values.

Key Issues and Options

The implementation and consolidation of the truce, including reaching agreement on the reopening of roads in Taiz and other governorates, is a key issue. A further key issue is making progress on restarting a political process based on Grundberg’s multitrack framework, as the truce will be unsustainable without a process in place for a comprehensive political settlement. Council members could encourage the parties’ continued engagement with the UN Special Envoy to strengthen the truce and urge Yemeni stakeholders to hold continued consultations and negotiations on his framework, which covers political, security and economic tracks.

Notwithstanding the truce’s positive impact on the humanitarian situation, key issues remain, such as preventing famine, improving humanitarian access, supporting the economy, and raising funds for relief operations. Rising global food and energy prices since the start of the war in Ukraine present significant threats to efforts to ease Yemen’s humanitarian crisis. Members could encourage donors to contribute to the UN’s 2022 Yemen humanitarian response plan and fill the remaining funding requirements to begin implementing the UN-facilitated plan for the FSO Safer.

Another issue for July is the mandate renewal of UNMHA and whether the mandate requires changes, considering its new operating landscape. The Council may renew UNMHA for another year while largely maintaining its mandate, including its role in monitoring the 2018 Hodeidah governorate ceasefire agreement. The Council could reiterate the importance of UNMHA’s freedom of movement and of preserving the civilian nature of the Hodeidah ports while endorsing the Secretary-General’s recommendation to expand UNMHA’s footprint.

Council Dynamics

Council members have remained generally united over Yemen despite the increased polarisation in the Security Council since the start of the war in Ukraine. The P5 ambassadors to Yemen (China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US) have maintained coordination in support of the UN envoy’s efforts. In the Council, members have encouraged the parties to uphold and extend the truce. They also want the parties to make progress towards starting a political process for a comprehensive settlement to end the war. The United Arab Emirates, an elected Council member, is a member of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition and will strongly push for its views to be reflected in Council products.

The UK is the penholder on Yemen. Ambassador Ferit Hoxha (Albania) chairs the Yemen 2140 Sanctions Committee.

UN DOCUMENTS ON YEMEN

Security Council Resolutions
28 February 2022S/RES/2624 This resolution renewed the Yemen sanctions regime for one year and added the Houthis as an entity to the Yemen sanctions list, subject to the measures of the targeted arms embargo in resolution 2216.
14 July 2021S/RES/2586 This extended the mandate of UNMHA until 15 July 2022.
Security Council Letter
13 June 2022S/2022/484 This was a Secretary-General’s review of the UN Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA).
Security Council Meeting Record
14 June 2022S/PV.9063 This was a Council briefing on Yemen.
Security Council Press Statement
3 June 2022SC/14923 This press statement welcomed the 2 June extension of the truce in Yemen.

 

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