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Yemen's Humanitarian Crisis Escalates Amid Banking and Detention Issues

Abdullah Ali Fadhel Al-Saadi, Permanent Representative of Yemen to the United Nations, addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East (Yemen)| UN Photo/Evan Schneider
Abdullah Ali Fadhel Al-Saadi, Permanent Representative of Yemen to the United Nations, addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East (Yemen)| UN Photo/Evan Schneider

By: ATN News

United Nations: Urgent calls to address the deteriorating situation in Yemen were made at a Security Council meeting today, with senior United Nations officials highlighting a series of recent developments that threaten to exacerbate the already severe humanitarian crisis in the country. The arbitrary detention of UN personnel by Ansar Allah (the Houthis) and stringent new banking directives were cited as critical issues needing immediate attention.

Hans Grundberg, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, described the “worrisome circumstances” surrounding the arbitrary detention of 13 UN personnel by Ansar Allah last week. Alongside these detentions, five staff members from international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and Yemeni civil society representatives were also detained. Grundberg emphasized that resolving these detentions was crucial before tackling broader issues such as economic instability, military tensions, and mediation efforts.

Adding to the severity of the situation, Ansar Allah issued death sentences to 45 individuals on June 1, contravening the UN’s moratorium on the death penalty. Grundberg warned that a retaliatory sequence of actions by Ansar Allah and the Central Bank of Yemen risked severing Sana’a banks from international financial transactions. This move could critically damage Yemen's economy and potentially spark military escalation, he cautioned.

Edem Wosornu, Director of Operations and Advocacy at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), also expressed grave concern. She called for the immediate release of the detained UN personnel, all Yemeni nationals, whose exact whereabouts and conditions remain unknown. Wosornu pointed out that competing and increasingly stringent directives from the Houthis and the Government of Yemen, including a potential exclusion of Sana’a-based banks from the SWIFT system, threaten to further fragment Yemen's struggling economy. Such developments could deepen poverty, worsen food insecurity and malnutrition, and increase reliance on humanitarian assistance, she warned.

Security Council members echoed the call for the immediate and unconditional release of all detained UN personnel and staff. There was near-unanimous agreement on the need to scale up humanitarian relief efforts in response to the banking crisis and the stark scale of humanitarian needs. However, views diverged on the escalating tensions in the Red Sea, with some members linking the Houthi attacks on vessels to ongoing violence in Gaza.

The Russian Federation’s delegate highlighted that regional instability, particularly the escalation in Gaza, impacts Yemen’s peace processes. He condemned attacks on civilian vessels and criticized “illegitimate interventions” by the US and UK-led coalition. Conversely, the US representative condemned the Houthi rebels’ attacks on commercial vessels and urged them to cease such activities to allow the unimpeded delivery of food and supplies. He also warned about Iran's provision of advanced weapons to the Houthis.

Yemen’s delegate condemned the abductions by the Houthi militias and criticized the Security Council’s failure to reach consensus on a statement regarding these actions. He highlighted the dire economic impact of the Houthis' activities, including attacks on oil facilities and commercial shipping, exacerbating one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

Representatives from the United Kingdom, China, France, Ecuador, Switzerland, Japan, Malta, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, and the Republic of Korea echoed the calls for the release of detained UN personnel, de-escalation of economic hostilities, and increased humanitarian aid. They stressed the importance of navigating the complex political and military landscape to ensure economic stability and facilitate a peaceful political transition.

In conclusion, the Security Council was urged to prioritize de-escalation, dialogue, and diplomacy to address Yemen’s multi-faceted crisis. The detention of UN personnel, stringent banking directives, and regional military tensions were identified as immediate challenges that need resolution to alleviate the humanitarian plight and pave the way for lasting peace in Yemen.


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