Airport closure death sentence for sick Yemenis: int'l groups

Sana'a (Debriefer)
2019-08-06 | Since 4 Month

إضغط هنا لقراءة الخبر بالعربية

Closure of Sana'a airport by the Saudi-led coalition amounts to death sentence for thousands of sick Yemenis, the Norwegian Council for Refugees (NCR) and Care International have said, noting that is a symbol for a state that does not act for its people's sake.

"Three years of restrictions imposed on Yemen's airspace by the Saudi-led coalition is preventing thousands of sick Yemeni civilians from seeking urgent medical treatment abroad," the two international groups said in a joint statement seen by Debriefer.

Closure of Sana'a airport before commercial flights since 9 August 2016 has led to the death of nearly 32,000 people thought to have early lost their life because of their inability to travel abroad for medication, according to the Houthi-run health ministry in Sana'a.

The NCR and Care have repeatedly called the coalition to lift restrictions imposed on Yemen's airspace and allow for medical supplies to be imported and for patients in need for medication to travel via Sana'a airport, the statement added.

Closure of Sana'a airport sentences thousands of people to early death, NCR country director said, "as if bullets, bombs and cholera haven't killed enough."

There is no justification to prevent civilians from leaving the country for medical treatment that could save their lives, Mohamed Abdi added in the statement.

On his part, Care director has said citizens "die because they cannot do the simplest thing; using their own Sana'a airport to travel."

Persistent closure of Sana'a airport has become a symbol for a state that doesn't act for its people, Johan Mowi added, as "millions in Yemen suffer inaccessibility to things we see in many other countries as postulates."

This situation should come to an end, and all land, air and sea ports should remain open, he said.

Yemen 4-year-old war has destroyed the already weak health system, with only less than half of health facilities in Yemen fully functioning, and many of medical equipment are old and need replacement, according to the Sana'a-based ministryof health.

Almost complete halt of commercial and medicine shipments via the airport and restrictions imposed on imports via Hodeida seaport have led prices to increase to more than double, making most of the population unable to buy basic medicines, the statement read.

Restrictions on Yemen's airspace make it harder for people with chronic diseases to get lifesaving medicine abroad, said the statement.

Before war, some 7,000 Yemenis travelled abroad via Sana'a airport annuallyfor medication unavailable in Yemen, the statement quoted the Houthi-run ministry of health.

Closure of Sana'a airport means that the only option for citizens in Sana'a and north of the country, who need medical treatment, is to travel by land to Aden or Seyoun in the south to reach the nearest airport. This journey takes 15-24 hours and requires passing laborious roads and checkpoints, the statement added.

Under the UNSC Resolution 2451, warring parties are urged to work with the UN Envoy Martin Griffiths in order to safely reopen and operate Sana'a airport before commercial flights, but no progress has been made.

The two charities have called on rivals to reach a deal to reopen Sana'a airport for commercial flights, and on the UK, US and France to pressure both sides into ending the political disputes over the airport.

Yemen has been racked by an armed conflict that broke out after the Iranian-backed Houthis had ousted the internationally-recognized government late in 2014.

The conflict escalated after a Saudi-led coalition intervened militarily in the country in March 2015 to reinstate the government of President Hadi.

Since August 2016, the coalition has imposed blockade on commercial flights to and fro Sana'a airport, on the pretext that Houthis smuggle weapons and people via the facility.

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