Postponement of the first commercial flight from Sanaa since 2016

Houthi-controlled Sanaa airport closed to commercial traffic since August 2016 afp_tickers

This content was published on 24 April 2022 – 00:42 July,


Yemen Airways announced on Sunday the postponement of its first commercial flight in six years from the capital, Sanaa, which is controlled by pro-Iranian rebels, due to the lack of “operating permits” from the Saudi-led military coalition.

As the government accused the Houthis of trying to smuggle Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah operatives, the rebels said the failure to grant the license was a “violation” of the ongoing ceasefire in Yemen.

On Sunday morning, the capital’s airport was scheduled to receive its first commercial aircraft since 2016, raising hopes that the current ceasefire in Yemen would lead to lasting peace in the war-torn country.

The plane, operated by Yemen, was to transport passengers over the age of forty in need of medical treatment from Sanaa to the Jordanian capital, Amman, as part of a two-month ceasefire that took effect in early April. .

But, hours before the flight, the airlines said on their Facebook page that they “regretted the delay in arriving permits to complete their flight from Sana’a International Airport,” adding that they had not received “until at the moment operating permits. “

The company expressed “its deep regret for the traveling brothers who were not allowed to operate” the flight, hoping that “all problems will be overcome soon and the company will be allowed to resume its flights from Sana’a”.

A passenger told AFP he had received a call from an airline official telling him not to go to the airport.

“The permission requested by the coalition has not been obtained,” a director at the company told AFP.

There has been no immediate reaction from the military coalition backing the government in confronting the Houthis and controlling Yemeni airspace since the start of its operations in Yemen in 2015.

For his part, Yemeni Information Minister Muammar Al-Eryani blamed Houthi for delaying the trip, telling the Yemeni News Agency that “the trip was disrupted due to the failure of the Houthi terrorist militia to honor the agreement. which determines the approval of passports issued by the legitimate government ”.

He added that the rebels were trying to “impose 60 passengers on board the flight with unreliable passports issued by him, in light of information confirming his plan to exploit flights during the two months of the ceasefire to smuggle dozens of leaders, executives and experts from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Lebanese Hezbollah, with false names and forged documents.

Al-Eryani called on the international community, the United Nations and the UN envoy to “put pressure on the Houthi terrorist militia to stop manipulating this humanitarian dossier.”

On the other hand, the undersecretary of the Civil Aviation Authority in Sana’a, Raed Talib Jabal, said that “aggression countries are denying their obligations by refusing to give Yemen Airlines permission to reduce the commercial flight that was scheduled to arrive today . “, considering this” a violation of the ceasefire declared by the UN envoy to Yemen “.

“The coalition of aggression deliberately aims to double the suffering of the Yemeni people, while seeking to deceive the international public opinion regarding the humanitarian dossier,” he added.

– Continuous suffering –

The war in Yemen since 2014, between rebels and the government, has caused the deaths of more than 377,000 people directly or indirectly, according to the United Nations, meaning they died either in bombings and fighting, or as an indirect result. the consequences of war like hunger, disease and lack of drinking water.

As Yemen experiences the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, millions of people are on the brink of starvation, while thousands, including many residents of rebel-held areas, need urgent medical treatment that is not available in the country, its infrastructure and whose has been destroyed.

The rebels control the capital, Sanaa, and large areas to the north, Yemen and west, including vital ports overlooking the Red Sea.

Shortly after the decision to close the international airport in 2016, the pro-government coalition said in response to a question about preventing civilian aircraft from using the airport, that this was intended to guarantee the “safety” of Yemeni Airlines aircraft and “make sure the planes do not smuggle weapons.”

The coalition accuses Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah of smuggling weapons to rebels and sending operatives to Yemen to train them to use drones and ballistic missiles against the government and Saudi Arabia, as well as the United Arab Emirates, a member of the coalition.

The Norwegian Refugee Council said last year that the closure of Sanaa airport “caused economic losses estimated at billions (…), which worsened the humanitarian situation”, adding, “Yemenis were deprived of their right to travel abroad to seek medical attention. or to conduct business. ” business, work, study or family visit.

About 80 percent of Yemen’s 30 million people depend on aid to survive.

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