Yemen June 2024 Monthly Forecast by Security Council

The Security Council published its monthly forecast of Yemen for June 2024 in which it revealed its expected actions and covered and updates of the main issues in the country and its relation to the security council, hereunder it is:
Expected Council Action
In June, the Security Council is expected to hold a briefing, followed by closed consultations, on Yemen. UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg and a representative of OCHA are expected to brief. The head of the UN Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA), Major General Michael Beary, will brief in consultations.

Key Recent Developments
The Houthi rebel group has continued to attack maritime shipping since November 2023 to pressure Israel to cease its military offensive in Gaza, although with less frequency in recent months. Along with US strikes against Houthi targets in response to the attacks, the situation has frozen Yemen’s peace talks.

In a televised speech on 3 May, Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea said that the rebel group, which has targeted ships in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the Indian Ocean, would also target ships in the Mediterranean Sea heading to Israeli ports. While the pace of attacks has declined, a Houthi ballistic missile struck the oil tanker M/T Wind on 18 May as it transited the Red Sea. Before it could resume its voyage, the ship had to address flooding caused by the attack. The tanker is a Panamanian-flagged, Greek-owned vessel that had recently docked in Russia and was bound for China, according to US Central Command. On 28 May, three Houthi missiles hit the Marshall Islands-flagged and Greek-owned M/V Laax fifty-four miles southwest of Hodeidah port. According to reports, the bulk carrier took on water, which was causing it to list. During the month, the Houthis also claimed to have shot down two US reaper drones over Yemen, one each on 17 May and 21 May; these would represent the fourth and fifth US reaper drones, which can fly at an altitude of 50,000 feet and each cost about $30 million, that the group has downed since November 2023.

On 7 May, senior representatives from across the humanitarian community gathered in Brussels for the sixth Yemen Humanitarian Senior Officials Meeting, co-hosted by Sweden and the European Commission. Belgium, the EU, France, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the US committed $791.69 million to address humanitarian needs in the country.

At the 13 May Council briefing on Yemen, Grundberg reiterated that the regional situation has hampered his mediation efforts. As part of his briefing, Grundberg noted that the security situation along the front lines in Yemen had remained stable over the past month but expressed concern about the parties’ threat to return to war, including Houthi rhetoric and actions in relation to Marib governorate.

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths updated the Council on the humanitarian situation, marking one of his final briefings before he concludes his tenure as the head of UN humanitarian affairs at the end of June; Griffiths was Grundberg’s predecessor as UN Special Envoy for Yemen, serving from March 2018 to June 2021. During his briefing, Griffiths flagged a “rapidly worsening” cholera outbreak in Yemen, occurring particularly in Houthi-controlled areas. According to Griffiths, the outbreak has caused 40,000 suspected cases and 160 reported deaths, which marked a sharp increase from the previous month, and required rapid funding to prevent the outbreak “from spiralling out of control”.

At the Council meeting, the UK reiterated its concern over vessels entering Hodeidah governorate ports without reporting to the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism (UNVIM). Since 2016, vessels travelling to Yemeni ports not under the internationally recognised government’s control have been required to inform UNVIM, which inspects ships and clears them for continued transit. The UK and US first raised concerns publicly about the issue at a 14 March Council briefing. According to the UK at last month’s briefing, there has been a “notable surge” in bypassing UNVIM, with the equivalent of as many as 500 truckloads of uninspected material entering Hodeidah since October 2023.

On 26 May, the Houthis unilaterally released 113 prisoners, according to a statement by the ICRC. It was the first prisoner release since the Houthis and the Yemeni government released over 800 prisoners in April 2023.

Sanctions-Related Developments
On 3 May, the 2140 Yemen Sanctions Committee met with its Panel of Experts to consider the panel’s mid-term update. Since the renewal of its mandate in November 2023, there have been delays in appointing two of the panel’s five experts—the experts on armed groups and on international humanitarian law—as Algeria, China and Russia each made requests to extend consideration of UN proposed candidates. Speaking at the 13 May Council briefing, Ambassador Joonkook Hwang (Republic of Korea), who chairs the committee, stressed the need to expedite the appointment process of the two outstanding members. On 17 May, the chair informed the committee that there had been no new holds or objections regarding the two nominated individuals. Their appointment to the panel was expected to proceed.

Women, Peace and Security
In his briefing during the 15 May Security Council meeting on Yemen, Grundberg said that he continues preparations for “a nationwide ceasefire and the resumption of an inclusive political process” adding that his office has recently organised “several meetings together with Yemenis on how to enhance women’s meaningful participation in all aspects of the peace process”. One of these meetings was the “Women, Peace, and Security Agenda in Yemen Forum”, which took place in Madrid from 23 to 26 April and was attended by women peace advocates and experts in gender and mediation, among other participants. According to a press release issued by Grundberg’s office, the meeting “highlighted the importance of including women in peace processes, and explored ways to address the existing barriers impeding women’s meaningful participation”. According to a social media post by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, EU and Cooperation, which co-organised the event, the meeting attempted to identify strategies to increase women’s participation in political and economic leadership in Yemen.

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. A related key issue is 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.

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 protect the gains made to date in peace talks. They may use opportunities, such as a potential 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 for inclusive intra-Yemeni political talks.

Council members may also call on donors to quickly disburse funding commitments and increase support to the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) and to support economic stability, as the humanitarian situation remains a key issue. At the Humanitarian Senior Officials Meeting, $792 million in pledges were announced, but OCHA’s 2024 HRP requires $2.7 billion. 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.

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, China, Mozambique, and Russia 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. In its interventions at Yemen briefings, the US has repeatedly said that it would like the Secretary-General’s monthly reporting on Houthi attacks on maritime shipping in accordance with resolution 2722 to include information on the types of weapons used in each incident and, where appropriate, the likely origin of these weapons.

China, Russia, and the African Council members (Algeria, Mozambique, and Sierra Leone) and Guyana, which are known as the “A3 plus one”, also highlight the importance of a Gaza ceasefire to end the Red Sea crisis, and 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 is identifying Iran, in the Council’s Yemen products, 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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