May 2024 Monthly Forecast



Expected Council Action

In May, the Security Council will hold its monthly meeting on Yemen. UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg and a representative of OCHA are expected to brief. Head of the UN Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA) Major General Michael Beary will brief in consultations.

Key Recent Developments

Attacks by the Houthi rebel group on commercial shipping since the outbreak of the war between Israel and Hamas in October 2023 have persisted, significantly disrupting trade routes through the Red Sea, and prompting military strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen by the UK and the US since 11 January. The situation has frozen, and risks upending, peace talks between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia and deliberations on a UN roadmap for an inter-Yemeni political process.

On 13 April, the Houthis joined Iran and its proxy groups—militias in Iraq and Hezbollah in Lebanon—in launching missiles and drones at Israel in retaliation for Israel’s 1 April attack against an Iranian consular facility in Damascus. The attack on the facility killed several senior commanders of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). According to the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), Israel and its “international partners” intercepted 99 percent of the approximately 300 unmanned aerial vehicles, ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles launched. US Central Command, in a statement noting that it had intercepted more than 80 one-way drones and at least six ballistic missiles from Iran and Yemen, highlighted that it had destroyed a ballistic missile on its launcher vehicle and seven drones in Yemen prior to their being fired.

On 18 April, Houthi leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi said in a televised speech that the group would continue its attacks against maritime shipping until Israel halts its military offensive against Hamas in Gaza, which it launched following the Palestinian militant group’s attack on Israel on 7 October 2023. “The solution in everyone’s interest is to stop the [Israeli] aggression, end the siege in Gaza, and provide food and medicine [to the Gaza Strip],” he said.

The Security Council held its monthly briefing on Yemen on 15 April, followed by closed consultations. Grundberg reiterated that regional events have “significantly complicated the mediation space” to establish a nationwide ceasefire in Yemen and an intra-Yemeni political process. He added: “In the absence of a ceasefire in Gaza and a complete termination of attacks in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, the threat of further escalation persists. The recent developments involving Iran and Israel underscore the urgency of this matter.” OCHA Director of Operations and Advocacy Edem Wosornu highlighted at the session that there had been a rapid spread since March of cholera in Houthi-controlled areas. As at 7 April, more than 11,000 suspected cases had been reported in these areas, with 75 associated deaths. Approximately 3,200 suspected cases have been reported in government-controlled areas since October 2023.

Civil society representative Wameedh Shakir, Founder and Chairwoman of Itar Foundation for Social Development, also briefed. Shakir highlighted the effect of climate change in Yemen, which she said causes food insecurity, water scarcity, and displacement. Shakir called for the Council to urge the conflict parties in Yemen to address the climate crisis by enhancing good governance, building institutional capacity, and empowering civil society participation. Before the meeting, Council members that have signed on to the “Statement of joint pledges related to climate, peace and security”—France, Guyana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Switzerland, the Republic of Korea (ROK), the UK, and the US—held a stakeout to present a statement on climate, peace and security issues facing Yemen.

Women, Peace and Security

During her Council briefing, Shakir said Yemen’s climate crisis disproportionally affects women and girls, “who often play a crucial role in food production and household water collection and management”. She noted that “authorities do not consider climate change a priority” and that existing climate change adaptation plans lack “gender and youth-responsive implementation mechanisms”. Shakir stressed that “renewed efforts towards peacebuilding are crucial, with civil society and women’s rights organizations at the forefront”. Among her recommendations, she urged the Council to call on all parties to respect and protect the human rights of all Yemenis, including women and girls, and urge the parties in Yemen to “lift all restrictions on the movement of Yemeni women, and humanitarian and peacebuilding workers”.

Key Issues and Options

The Houthi threat to commercial shipping and the continued exchange of attacks by the Houthis on vessels and by US-led forces on Houthi targets is a key issue. Preserving the progress made prior to the crisis in the now-stalled Omani-facilitated talks between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia to reach a peace agreement and Grundberg’s efforts to develop a road map for an inter-Yemeni political process is another key issue. Fragile relations among the factions that form the Yemeni government’s Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) and some PLC members’ calls for a separate southern Yemeni state remain additional concerns related to political efforts.

Members are likely to monitor developments in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden and encourage the parties to engage with the Special Envoy and preserve the progress to date in peace talks. They may use opportunities, such as a ceasefire in Gaza or a lull in Red Sea attacks, to issue a press statement that expresses support for Yemen’s peace process and encourages the parties to reach agreement on the Special Envoy’s roadmap for a ceasefire and an inclusive intra-Yemeni political process.

Council members may also call on donors to increase their funding to the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) and for actions to support economic stability, as the humanitarian situation remains a key issue. OCHA’s 2024 HRP, released in January, was only 15.2 precent funded as at 25 April. It projects that 18.2 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection services in 2024. The main drivers of need remain Yemen’s deteriorated economy, lack of public services and protracted conflict-induced displacement. In addition to cholera, recent months have seen a rise in food insecurity. A funding crisis for the work of the World Food Programme (WFP) in Yemen threatens to undermine the response. Insecurity and access restraints are also key issues impeding relief efforts. While the UN still reports that it has not seen major implications from the Red Sea crisis on the humanitarian situation, the risk that this could exacerbate needs is also a key issue.

Council Dynamics

Council members are united in their support for the various mediation efforts. They have welcomed the Houthi-Saudi talks and stress the ultimate need for an inclusive Yemeni political process under UN auspices to achieve a sustainable resolution of the conflict. Members have also condemned the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea and are concerned about the consequences for maritime security, freedom of navigation, and Yemen’s peace process.

Nonetheless, the Red Sea crisis has created some divisions on the Yemen file. On 10 January, the Council adopted resolution 2722, which took note of the right of member states, in accordance with international law, to defend their vessels from attacks. Algeria, Mozambique, Russia, and China abstained on the vote, however, and China and Russia have criticised the US and UK for strikes in Yemen without Council authorisation. The US and UK assert that their strikes are undertaken in self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter. The US and Japan co-authored resolution 2722, as well as press statements on the crisis issued on 1 December 2023 and 18 March. The Houthis have held the Japanese-operated cargo ship Galaxy Leader and its crew since capturing the vessel, linked to an Israeli businessman, in November 2023.

Russia, China, and the African Council members (Algeria, Mozambique, and Sierra Leone) and Guyana, known as the “A3 plus one”, also highlight the importance of a Gaza ceasefire to end the Red Sea crisis; in Council negotiations on products on the Houthi attacks they have argued for explicitly recognising the link between the two crises. A long-standing red line for Russia in the Council’s Yemen products is identifying Iran as supplying the Houthis with arms.

The UK is the penholder on Yemen. Ambassador Joonkook Hwang (Republic of Korea) chairs the 2140 Yemen Sanctions Committee.

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Security Council Resolution
10 January 2024S/RES/2722 This resolution demanded that the Houthis immediately cease all attacks on merchant and commercial vessels and took note of the right of member states, in accordance with international law, to defend their vessels from attacks, including those that undermine navigational rights and freedoms.
Security Council Letter
8 April 2024S/2024/303 This was a Secretary-General’s letter containing a report, in accordance with resolution 2722, on Houthi attacks on merchant and commercial vessels in the Red Sea covering the period 10 January to 8 April 2024.
Security Council Meeting Record
15 April 2024S/PV.9603 This was a briefing on Yemen by UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg, OCHA Director of Operations and Advocacy Edem Wosornu, and Chairwoman of Itar Foundation for Social Development Wameedh Shakir.
Security Council Press Statement
18 March 2024SC/15631 This press statement condemned in the strongest terms Houthi attacks against commercial vessels in the Red Sea, including the attacks on the True Confidence which killed three sailors on 6 March, and the Rubymar, which sank on 2 March.

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