Published: Fri, August 11, 2017
Business | By Max Garcia

Aid groups say Yemen airport closure hinders aid, traps patients

Aid groups say Yemen airport closure hinders aid, traps patients

On Wednesday, however, 15 aid groups and the Houthi rebels called on the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen to reopen the airport, saying the year-long closure was hindering aid and preventing thousands of patients from flying overseas for life-saving treatment. The number exceeds the death toll of close to 9,000 people killed in violent attacks.

The year-long closure of Yemen's main airport after Saudi-led coalition imposed no-fly zones led to more deaths last year than its coalition airstrikes, the Norwegian Refugee Council said Wednesday.

As well as the deaths of thousands of people, the country's infrastructure has also been devastated. It controls the airspace over Yemen, resulting in the closure of Sanaa airport on August 9, 2016, "leaving many Yemenis without transportation Safe to leave the country". In December, the United Nations estimated that the closure of Sana'a airport had denied 20,000 people access to potentially life-saving healthcare.

Houthi media attack the Sudanese government and denounce Sudan's participation in the Saudi-led military coalition intervened in a civil war in Yemen in March 2015.

Yemen's health ministry estimates that 10,000 Yemenis have died from critical health conditions for which they were seeking worldwide medical treatment, the statement said, adding it was unable to verify the figure.

More than 54,000 people have been killed or injured since the escalation of violence in 2015, and close to half a million affected by cases of suspected cholera since April this year, as Yemen's already fragile health system struggles to meet basic health needs.

Aid groups, along with the Huthis, on Wednesday appealed to the Saudi-led Arab coalition to allow the delivery of desperately-needed supplies to Yemen, which now faces a deadly cholera epidemic and the imminent threat of starvation. "The importance of unhampered delivery of humanitarian aid can not be overstated", the statement added.

Yemen's foreign ministry accused the rebel militias of attacking the Sudanese embassy in the Yemeni capital Sana'a which is controlled by the Iran-backed alliance of Houthis Ansarullah group and former President Ali Abdullah Saleh's General People's Congress (GPC).

"It is critical that all channels of domestic and global air movement are reopened so Yemenis can get help, and help can get to Yemenis", he said. "It's like being caught up in a fortress mentality that you can't escape from".

"This has become a tactic of the war in itself and I think [it] is really unfair".

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