First Aid Flight in 3 Weeks Lands in Yemen's Sana'a

Nov 26, 2017, 01:06
First Aid Flight in 3 Weeks Lands in Yemen's Sana'a

The coalition closed all airports and ports in Yemen on November 5, a day after the Houthis fired a ballistic missile at Saudi capital Riyadh. In a joint statement on November 16, the heads of Unicef, World Food Programme and the World Health Organisation warned that "more than 20 million people, including over 11 million children, are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance".

"We have been notified through our usual contacts with the coalition in Riyadh that the regular passenger flights operated by (the U.N. Humanitarian Air Service) can fly tomorrow to Sanaa from Amman starting tomorrow", said spokesman Jens Laerke of the U.N. humanitarian aid coordination agency OCHA at U.N. briefing in Geneva on Friday.

The Saudi Press Agency said on Tuesday that it would reopen Hodeidah port to receive "urgent humanitarian and relief materials" and Sanaa airport to United Nations aircraft from midday on Thursday (9am GMT), but did not specify if it would ease a blockade on commercial traffic.

The Sanaa airport officials have confirmed that two other humanitarian flights had landed in Yemen on Saturday.

"There are more than 500 employees trapped either inside or outside being denied travel as well as 40 flights that were denied arrival at Sanaa airport", he added.

The missile was struck down but it was the farthest a projectile by the rebels, also known as Houthis, had penetrated into the kingdom.

"After more than two weeks of blockade of these ports, there are various kinds of supplies essential for fighting starvation, for fighting cholera and other types of humanitarian threats that millions of people are facing in Yemen today", Laerke said.

Sources in Washington said that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had asked Saudi Arabia to ease its blockade of Yemen before the kingdom chose to do so.

The Saudi-led coalition is fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who seized control of Sana'a in late 2014 and have since taken over other parts of the impoverished country.

The heads of three United Nations agencies had earlier urged the Saudi-led military coalition to lift the blockade, warning that "untold thousands" would die if it stayed in place.

In an interview just before the coalition made the announcement, McGoldrick told The Associated Press that a continued blockade would make Yemen's long-suffering population more vulnerable to cholera and starvation.

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