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António Guterres (UN Secretary-General) on Yemen - Media Stakeout (02 November 2018)
2 Nov 2018 -  Opening Remarks to the press by H.E. Mr. António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, on Yemen.

Good afternoon. Allow me a clear message about the situation in Yemen – the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

This is not a natural disaster. It is man-made.

Yemen today stands on a precipice.

On the humanitarian side, the situation is desperate. We must do all we can to prevent the already dire conditions from deteriorating into the worst famine we have seen in decades.

But on the political side, there are signs of hope.

We must do all we can to maximize the chances for success.

The international community has a real opportunity to halt the senseless cycle of violence and to prevent an imminent catastrophe.

The time to act is now.

Over the last several months, military escalation and a severe, rapid economic crisis have made an unbearable situation even worse.

International humanitarian law has been flouted repeatedly.

Last week, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, warned the Security Council that Yemen is closer to famine than ever.

The UN and our partners are already feeding 8 million people in Yemen.

Without urgent action, up to 14 million people – fully half the population – could be at risk in the coming months. To avert imminent catastrophe, several steps are urgently required.

First, violence must stop everywhere – with an immediate halt around critical infrastructure and densely populated areas. I welcome the strong, constructive engagement from many Member States in recent days joining their voices to the UN’s repeated appeals for a cessation of hostilities and supporting my Special Envoy’s efforts.

Second, commercial and humanitarian imports of food, fuel and other essentials must be allowed to enter Yemen without restrictions. Roads must remain open, so life-saving goods can reach communities across the country everywhere.

Third, the Yemeni economy must be supported. This includes taking critical steps to stabilize the exchange rate and to pay salaries and pensions.

Fourth, international funding must increase now so that humanitarian agencies can expand their reach as necessary.

At the same time, it is essential that the Yemeni parties engage in good faith and without pre-conditions with my Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, to reach a negotiated political settlement to end the conflict.

The urgency of the humanitarian crisis leaves no room for complacency.

I welcome recent announcements by Yemeni parties expressing readiness to resume consultations.

There is now an opportunity for peace in Yemen. This building wave of momentum must be seized.

I urge the parties to overcome obstacles and to resolve still existing differences through dialogue at UN-facilitated consultations later this month.

I call on all Member States and other stakeholders to maintain this momentum to move towards an end to the conflict.

We must do all we can now to end human suffering and avoid the worst humanitarian crisis in the world from getting even worse.

Thank you.