Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of the Federal Government of Switzerland, I welcome you to the High-Level Pledging Event on the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen. I extend a special welcome to my co-hosts: UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde.
1. One of the biggest humanitarian crises worldwide
Our world is in turmoil. As if the global pandemic was not bad enough, armed conflicts are forcing millions of people around the world to leave their homes. Let me begin by expressing my deepest solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Something we thought was hardly possible has come to pass: war is back in Europe. However, despite the proximity of this conflict, we must not forget other crises. The people of Yemen have been suffering from armed conflict for seven years – we are talking about one of the biggest humanitarian crises in the world. According to the United Nations, more than two thirds of the population are in desperate need of humanitarian aid – more than 23 million people.
2. Switzerland maintains its contribution
A humanitarian aid team from Switzerland travelled to Yemen a few weeks ago and reported that there is a real risk that the limited, vital infrastructure that is still in place will collapse. Millions of Yemenis have already seen their food rations cut due to a lack of funding. It is therefore high time that we – the international community – step up our efforts. We need to ensure sufficient funding for the humanitarian response. And we must ensure that our contributions reach those in need as quickly as possible. This year, Switzerland will provide 15.8 million US dollars for humanitarian aid in Yemen. Our contribution is part of a commitment that has totalled 94 million US dollars over the past six years.
3. Ceasefire and access to the people in need
However, our financial contributions are not enough to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people.
• First and foremost, there is an urgent need for this conflict to end. A ceasefire must be brought about without delay. Switzerland supports the role of the UN in leading an inclusive political process and we call on the parties to engage in dialogue without preconditions.
• Second, humanitarian aid has to be delivered in an efficient and principled manner. We need to make sure that it reaches those most in need. And we need to invest in people’s ability to cope with such a crisis, and create the foundations for a prosperous Yemen in the future.
• And third, I call on all parties to lift restrictions on humanitarian actors. It is difficult to understand why dozens of projects are blocked throughout Yemen because of bureaucratic hurdles. It is also not acceptable that aid workers face obstacles to reach women affected by the crisis. I call on all authorities to remove these obstacles immediately.
4. Providing support and perspective
In closing, I would like to thank all humanitarian workers and organisations – Yemeni and internationals alike. I thank you for your tireless efforts in working to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people, at times under very difficult circumstances. I would also like to extend my gratitude to Special Envoy Angelina Jolie and thank her for her remarkable engagement on behalf of the people of Yemen. I call on all of us to support this inspiring commitment by mobilising the necessary financial resources today. Let us provide concrete support and the prospect of a better future for the millions of Yemeni women, men and children. Thank you for your continued support.