First com­mer­cial flight lands at Aden air­port af­ter block­ade

The National - News - - NEWS -

Ye­men’s na­tional air­line said a com­mer­cial flight landed at Aden in­ter­na­tional air­port yes­ter­day af­ter ac­quir­ing se­cu­rity per­mits, a step that will ease a block­ade on one of the poor­est Arab na­tions.

The Saudi-led mil­i­tary coali­tion fight­ing Ye­men’s Houthi rebels last week an­nounced it had closed all air, land and sea ports in Ye­men to stem the flow of arms from Iran to the Houthis.

The move came af­ter Saudi Ara­bia in­ter­cepted a mis­sile fired to­wards Riyadh, which it blamed on Tehran.

A Ye­me­nia air­lines of­fi­cial said a flight took off from Cairo and landed in Aden be­fore re­turn­ing to the Egyp­tian cap­i­tal. He said flights would in­crease over the com­ing days.

The UN has said a to­tal block­ade could cause famine in Ye­men, where war has killed at least 10,000 peo­ple in the past two and a half years.

In the Ye­meni cap­i­tal, Sanaa, the UN dis­missed Houthi claims that a Saudi-led air strike had de­stroyed the nav­i­ga­tion sta­tion of the in­ter­na­tional air­port.

Ye­meni of­fi­cials in Sanaa, which is held by the rebels, said the air­port run­way had also been dam­aged. But the UN said most of the air­port re­mained in­tact and that it would be able to re­ceive aid ship­ments once they restart.

Jamie McGoldrick, of the UN of­fice for the co-or­di­na­tion of hu­man­i­tar­ian af­fairs said UN staff had vis­ited the air­port and spo­ken to au­thor­i­ties there.

“The run­way, taxi­way, ramp, ter­mi­nal and air traf­fic con­trol tower were not hit and are in good con­di­tion. This will have no im­pact on our op­er­a­tions once they re­sume,” Mr McGoldrick said.

The US-backed coali­tion led by Saudi Ara­bia has been at war with Houthi rebels since March 2015. The coali­tion closed all Ye­men air, land and sea ports last week in re­sponse to a rebel bal­lis­tic mis­sile at­tack on Riyadh.

On Mon­day, it said it would re­open ports in ar­eas held by al­lied forces and loosen re­stric­tions it had raised af­ter the fir­ing of the mis­sile, which was in­ter­cepted near Riyadh’s in­ter­na­tional air­port.

But Mr McGoldrick said there was “no in­di­ca­tion” yet of the block­ade be­ing lifted.

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