Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg spoke today via video conference with Yemeni Foreign Minister Ahmad Awad bin Mubarak, who was appointed in December 2020.
The Yemeni government only returned to Aden from exile in Riyadh in December. On its return, there was an attack at the airport in Aden with many dead and over a hundred injured. Austria has condemned the attack in the strongest possible terms. “The government’s presence in Aden is an important signal to the Yemeni people, but also to the international community,” says Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg. Including representatives of the South in the government is also an important step towards overcoming the division of the country.
“After so many years of conflict, it must be clear to all sides by now that the only way to the goal is through dialogue,” said Schallenberg, who, in the discussion, underlined that Austria supports the efforts of the United Nations (UN) Special Envoy Martin Griffiths.
We have seen modest progress recently, for example in the exchange of prisoners. But there is still no lasting ceasefire or reliable political dialogue. I have offered the Yemeni Foreign Minister Austria’s full support to press ahead with the UN-led peace process.
The Foreign Ministers also discussed the Biden administration’s decision to review the designation of the Houthis as a terrorist organisation. The decision was made in the last days of the Trump administration and was heavily criticised by humanitarian organisations.
The humanitarian situation on the ground is catastrophic, we are on the brink of famine. Especially in this situation we must all ensure that humanitarian actors can do their work unhindered,
emphasised Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg.
UN organisations regularly refer to the conflict in Yemen as the world’s largest humanitarian disaster. In 2020, Austria provided three million euros from the Foreign Disaster Fund (FDF) through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Foreign Minister Schallenberg expresses his concern about reports of an imminent environmental disaster caused by a dilapidated oil tanker off the coast of Yemen. The Houthis have long denied UN experts access to it. “Here, a ticking time bomb is bobbing in the Red Sea. The last thing Yemen needs now is an environmental disaster on top of the humanitarian one.”