Closing Yemen’s key airport puts millions at risk, aid groups warn

A Saudi-led coalition’s ongoing closure of Yemen’s main airport in the rebel-held capital Sana’a puts millions of lives in the war-torn country at risk, 12 aid groups said on Sunday.

The groups called on the coalition, engaged in an air campaign against rebels in Yemen, to lift restrictions on Yemeni airspace in order to allow for the reopening of the Sana’a International Airport, and to allow humanitarian flights to resume. 

"Alongside humanitarian flights, commercial flights which also often bring in vital supplies and allow the free movement of civilians should also be allowed to recommence," the groups said in a joint statement.

The airport was closed on Monday, two days after UN-sponsored peace talks between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and Iran-allied rebels ended in Kuwait without a breakthrough.

The coalition has since intensified airstrikes on Sana’a and other rebel-controlled parts of Yemen.

The Sana'a airport remained shut on Sunday, according to the humanitarian groups.

"The closure of Yemen’s main airport, which serves much of the country, is inexcusable when millions of Yemeni families are in urgent need of life-saving assistance," said Syma Jamil, a country director of the Norwegian Refugee Council, one of the signatories to the statement.

"The closure only serves to make it even more difficult for aid agencies to get help to those that desperately need it, cutting off an important humanitarian assistance lifeline," she added.

Yemen, one of the Arab world’s poorest countries, has been in the grip of a civil strife since late 2014.

In March 2015, Saudi Arabia and fellow Sunni partners started an air campaign in Yemen against the mostly Shiite rebels.

As a result of the conflict, more than 14 million Yemenis are in need of food aid, the relief groups said on Sunday.

"The closure effectively seals Yemen off from the rest of the world at a time when half the population is malnourished and hospitals urgently require more medicine and medical supplies," Jamil said.

"We call on the Saudi-led coalition to immediately lift all airspace restrictions in order to allow for the airport to be re-opened without further delay."

Last update: Sun, 14/08/2016 - 19:01

More from World

Top NATO officer: 150 Turkish officers recalled, retired after coup

About 150 Turkish officers, some responsible for training others, were recalled or retired from NATO high command in...

Erdogan says era of trade in local currencies set to begin

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan backed up his ambitions for the lira Wednesday, saying the era of local...

West demands a ceasefire in Aleppo as Russia seeks rebel surrender

Six Western powers demanded Wednesday an "immediate ceasefire" to bring aid into rebel-held Aleppo, warning "a...

Donald Trump named Time magazine's Person of the Year

Time magazine named US president-elect Donald Trump as the 2016 Person of the Year, a pick that its editor called a...

Plane carrying at least 48 people crashes in northern Pakistan

A commercial aircraft carrying at least 48 people crashed in northern Pakistan on Wednesday after it took off for...