Ap­peals to end Sanaa air­port clo­sure as it en­ters 2nd year

Muscat Daily - - NATION -

Sanaa, Ye­men - Aid groups and rebels who con­trol the Ye­meni cap­i­tal ap­pealed on Wed­nes­day to a Saudi-led coali­tion back­ing the gov­ern­ment to al­low the re­open­ing of its air­port now closed for a year.

The coali­tion of Arab states forced the clo­sure of Sanaa air­port to all but very limited UN flights in Au­gust last year say­ing it was nec­es­sary to pre­vent arms smug­gling.

But aid groups have warned that the clo­sure is ham­per­ing the de­liv­ery of des­per­ately needed sup­plies which now have to go through the Red Sea port of Hodeida.

“The sick can no longer travel abroad for treat­ment and medicines can no longer be brought in,” the rebels’ trans­port min­is­ter Zeid al Chami told re­porters.

He ap­pealed to the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to put pres­sure on the Arab coali­tion to re­lent.

The Nor­we­gian Refugee Coun­cil (NRC) said the coali­tion’s block­ade of the air­port was caus­ing more deaths than its airstrikes on the rebels.

“Ten thou­sand Ye­me­nis have now died from health con­di­tions for which they were seek­ing med­i­cal treat­ment abroad,” the aid agency said, cit­ing fig­ures from the rebels’ health min­istry.

“The num­ber ex­ceeds the alarm­ing death toll of close to 9,000 peo­ple killed in vi­o­lent at­tacks.”

NRC coun­try direc­tor Mu­tasim Ham­dan said it was vi­tal that the air­port re­open.

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