Traveling from Sanaa is not for all Yemenis

As soon as Yemenis were optimistic about the return of air activity to the airport of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, with two flights a week, popular complaints of a different kind emerged regarding travel restrictions for certain groups of people, as a result of a series of demands. deployed by the Houthi militia for those wishing to leave the country.

In addition to a number of difficulties faced by Yemenis and their right to freedom of movement and movement, especially those coming from areas under the control of the Iran-backed group and the international legal restrictions it carries, Houthi militias imposed conditions on civilians who want to travel through Sana’a airport, forcing them to register and obtain the prior approval of the so-called “High Medical Committee”, a new militia entity.

Conditional travel

With the legitimate government and the supporting Arab coalition declaring their commitment to the UN ceasefire announced in early April, and its clauses defining the resumption of commercial flights to and from Sanaa airport, the Houthi militia, through a statement issued by the head of k. -the so-called “Supreme Medical Committee”, Mutahar al-Darwish, approved the creation of a mechanism dedicated to those who wish to travel, it includes the prioritization of wounded fighters and group leaders at a rate of 30 percent in flight locations . planned according to the ceasefire, which means, according to observers, the deprivation of many critical cases of civilian patients, who received the news of the recent opening of Sana’a airport, with much anticipation.

The “Medical Committee” justified its procedures by reasoning that “the number of sick cases registered with the committee is 35,000 patients and they must travel abroad” through two weekly trips, one of which is supposed to be in Cairo, and the other in Amman.

In confirmation of the consolidation of these procedures, the Minister of Transport in the Houthi government, Abdul Wahab Al-Durra, said that they had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Supreme Medical Committee, the Civil Aviation Authority and Yemen Airlines to allocate 30% of seats for flights. future in sick cases.

He stressed that, on Thursday, June 9, a report was signed between the Supreme Medical Committee, the Civil Aviation Authority and Yemen Airlines to allocate 30 percent of seats on all commercial flights over the next period for sick cases and 70 percent. for students, travelers and immigrants.

He added, “We will not accept the mechanism of the UN envoy’s office in Sana’a to approve flights and issue permits because it led to travel disruptions during the previous ceasefire and only six flights were made to the Jordanian capital, Amman., and a flight after strong efforts to Cairo. “

This was seen by observers as a restriction on citizens ‘right to travel on a par with the Houthis’ accusations of putting up certain names and trading travel tickets by selling them on the black market, taking advantage of the need of hundreds of patients. are obliged to receive medication abroad.

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One of the patients, who preferred not to be mentioned, confirmed that in order to be able to book from one of the Yemeni Airlines points of sale in Sana’a, the Houthi militia determined that he had to get medical approval or a preliminary report. by the so-called “medical committee”, as well as the placement of sums of money.In addition to the ticket fares approved by Yemenia Airlines, which is considered the most expensive and runs to about $ 700 from Sanaa to the Jordanian capital, Amman, and back.

He added that “These procedures are performed while most travel applicants are patients or students whose condition is very difficult.”

For the first time in more than six years, the first commercial flight took off from Sanaa Airport on May 16 for the Jordanian capital, Amman, under the UN Ceasefire Agreement between the Yemeni parties, which entered into force on April 2. for a period. of two months and has been extended for another two months, on the last day of expiration (six days ago).

He was followed by the first flight from Cairo airport to Sanaa on June 1, after approval by Egyptian authorities after UN and international mediation, as Cairo was refusing to approve travel documents issued by Houthi militias in Sanaa.

Yemen Airways, the exclusive air carrier to and from Yemen, sets out a series of procedures for travel on ceasefire flights, including obtaining a pre-booking visa to Jordan, provided the traveler has a sum of $ 1,500 by the time of arrival. his at Amman Airport.

“Yemen” is committed

For his part, Yemen Airways General Director of Media Salam Jabbari accepted the measures imposed by the recent Houthi authorities seeking prior approval from the group committee.

He said: “According to a meeting with the Minister of Transport (in the Houthi government in Sana’a, where the company is headquartered), a medical committee was formed to decide on giving priority to travel for the sickest cases.”

He added in an interview with “The Independent Arabia”, “We are committed to this procedure, hoping that in the coming period we will increase the number of flights to accommodate the growing demand for those who want to travel”, without giving details further. .

The struggle for travel rights

On the first of this month, hundreds of patients and students were happy to open the Sanaa-Cairo line, but they were disappointed by Houthi demands linking their right to travel with prior approval.

Those wishing to travel outside Yemen are forced to travel by land to the cities of Aden (south) or Governor Sayyid Hadhramaut (east), as they are the only air routes for millions of Yemenis, having shortened hundreds of kilometers by traveling heavy. and the difficulties posed by land travel, due to the development of alternative roads that are not paved due to the outbreak of war near the official roads connecting the various Yemeni governments, which are used to supply weapons fronts with weapons and fighters.

For his part, Khaled Al-Shayef, director of Sanaa Airport, which is under the authority of Houthis, called for “the announcement of the dates of Yemeni flights to and from Sana’a International Airport, their timetable and their regularity in so that they can be used optimally ”.

In a press release, he said: “After the extension of the ceasefire for another two months, the number of flights from Sana’a International Airport to Cairo and Amman will be 25, including nine that were not implemented by the previous ceasefire. “.

The most expensive tickets

With an average of four flights a day from Seiyun and Aden airports to about five international destinations, it has become the initial and overnight destination for the only Yemeni carrier, for a country with a population of about 30 million, which means that demand is high, accompanied by a very weak supply.

In the face of growing demand with the war, Yemen Airways operates an air fleet that does not exceed three aircraft, the Airbus A320. In addition to the problem of flight delays, broken schedules and emergency technical malfunctions that accompany some of its flights, its customers complain about the high price of tickets, which doubled in value with the war, although most customers, according to one employee of the trade point, are sick, war-wounded, and students, and some who were forced to leave the country by living conditions as a result of the Houthi coup, and the horrific harassment imposed on people and the suspension of wages of state employees.

The value of a single ticket from Aden to Amman is around $ 700 and $ 770 to Cairo, while the company, in turn, complains about a number of obstacles, which according to it are the main cause of all the problems faced by customers. her. .

In a previous interview, Al-Yemeniah media director pointed out a number of additional problems, which are “the imposition of overnight outside Yemen and the high costs of maintenance, spare parts and fuel, all of which are factors.” which caused the company to bear high financial burdens while we suffer from the collapse of the local currency ”.

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