July 15, 2018

Arab Coalition asks United Nations to run Sanaa International Airport

11 August 2017, 01:16 | Randall Craig

Saleh Ali al-Sammad the head of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council

Saleh Ali al-Sammad the head of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council

"The reopening of Sana airport is essential to alleviate the suffering of the civilian population", Jamie McGoldrick, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said in a Twitter post on Wednesday, the first anniversary of the closing of the airport.

Joel R. Charny, director of the Norwegian Refugee Council's Washington office, said he was skeptical of the Saudi proposal, asserting that similar arrangements had been made for aid shipments into the Houthi-controlled port of Al Hudaydah.

The fate of the National Blood Transfusion Centre in the capital, Sana'a hangs in the balance after French medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF, Doctors without Borders) announced that it is suspending its assistance to the Yemeni center.

More than 54,000 people have been killed or injured since the escalation of violence in 2015, the aid groups said in their statement.

It said this was roughly equivalent to the number of people that have died as a direct result of the fighting and represented the hidden victims of the conflict. Mohammed's father died less than a day before his flight.

Prior to the escalation of conflict in Yemen, an estimated 7,000 Yemenis were travelling overseas for medical treatment not available in the country, a number that has grown exponentially since March 2015, when a Saudi-led military coalition began airstrikes against Iran-backed Houthi rebels who orchestrated a bloody coup against the Hadi government in September 2014.

The Houthi media is known to regularly denounce Sudan for its participation in the Saudi-led military coalition but the group denies that any of its fighters were behind the attacks on the embassy. The Houthis, however, control most of the north, including Sana'a, so a reopening would need agreement from both sides.

Lack of access to the airport, which has been closed for over a year, has been a growing concern, with Yemen's Health Ministry suggesting only yesterday that the closure of the airport likely led to the deaths of at least 10,000 civilians, either from importing aid or allowing patients to travel overseas to treatment.

The aid groups said: "The current cholera outbreak and near-famine conditions in many parts of Yemen make the situation far worse".

Before the conflict, "some 7,000 Yemenis were traveling overseas from Sanaa airport to get medical treatments that were not available in the country".

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