I thank Special Envoy Hans Grundberg, to whom I wish a very quick recovery, and Alternate Director of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Ghada Eltahir Mudawi for their briefings and especially for their important efforts to promote peace and the protection of civilians in Yemen.
While the events of the past months attest to the growing political will to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, we are convinced that the current opportunities must be transformed into a lasting peace. In this context, Switzerland would like to highlight the following three points:
First, we welcome the prisoner exchange negotiated in Switzerland and take this opportunity to thank the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Special Envoy for their great commitment to this positive outcome. This prisoner exchange is not only an important confidence-building measure between the parties to the conflict, but also a sign of renewed optimism for hundreds of families in Yemen. It is impossible to get tired of the images we have all seen over the past weekend: of a father holding his son or a brother seeing his family again after more than five years. All will be together for the Eid el fitr holiday.
Against this backdrop, the peace talks in Sana'a are a positive milestone. This welcome but fragile progress should pave the way for the achievement of an inclusive political settlement under the aegis of the United Nations, as well as for a national dialogue with the participation of the whole society. In this respect, we welcome the work of Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman. However, Switzerland is also aware that there is still a long way to go to resolve the conflict in Yemen. Therefore, we urge the parties to quickly find concrete solutions that will benefit the entire population.
Secondly, we remain concerned about the excessive restrictions faced by humanitarian actors, especially women. We condemn these obstructions and call on all parties to facilitate the rapid and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population in need, including access to women and children. We are also concerned about the recent escalation of violence, particularly in Marib and Shabwa, and urge the parties to remain calm and restrained. The truce agreed a year ago has strengthened the protection of civilians. But efforts must be made to ensure that those responsible for all violations of international humanitarian law are prosecuted and held accountable.
Thirdly, we welcome the progress in the implementation of the SAFER rescue plan and in particular the fact that the replacement vessel Nautica has set sail for the Red Sea. While this is a key step, 29 million are still needed to complete the first phase of the operation. As such, the participation of the Member States that have not yet contributed, as well as that of the private sector to make up the missing funds, is crucial. As we have already underlined in this room last month, without this additional funding, we will not avoid an environmental disaster that could have negative consequences for peace in the region. In this context, we welcome the conference organised by the Netherlands and the United Kingdom in May. Finally, these contributions must not in any way undermine the UN humanitarian response plan for Yemen.
This Council must remain fully mobilized and support the renewal of the truce in Yemen and the prospects for change that seem to be emerging in the country. Switzerland is at all times ready to host discussions that will make it possible to meet the legitimate aspirations of the Yemeni people.