News ID: 321220
Published: 0326 GMT April 24, 2022

Saudi Arabia refuses to permit first commercial flight from Sana’a since 2016

Saudi Arabia refuses to permit first commercial flight from Sana’a since 2016

The first commercial flight out of Yemen's capital in six years was indefinitely postponed Sunday, after the Saudi-led coalition waging a war against the country refused to issue permits, the national carrier said.

Authorities in Sana’a accused the coalition of trying to keep Yemeni civilians "in a large prison", and said the denial of permits was a "violation" of a fragile truce, AFP reported.

The capital's airport was due to receive the permits Sunday morning, reviving hopes that the war-torn country could resume some normal operations.

A brutal seven-year conflict has killed hundreds of thousands of people and pushed the country to the brink of famine.

UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg voiced concern and called on the warring parties to work with his office "to find a solution that allows the flights to resume as planned".

A renewable two-month truce that went into effect in early April "is meant to benefit civilians including through reducing violence, making fuel available, and improving their freedom of movement to, from and within their country," Grundberg said.

But hours before the flight, the airline said "it has not yet received operating permits".

Yemenia said it hoped "all problems will be overcome in the near future", without specifying a date.

The former Yemeni government, which has the backing of Saudi Arabia, blamed the Ansarullah movement that control the capital and other regions for the flight being scrapped.

It accused the movement of trying to take advantage of the flights to "smuggle" foreign fighters onto the plane using "fake names and forged documents".

Sana’a Airport Director Khaled Al-Shayef said the passports issue was a "baseless justification" for barring the flight.

Deputy Head of Civil Aviation Raed Talib Jabal said the coalition's refusal to allow Sunday's flight was "a violation of the truce".

"The coalition insists that the Yemeni people remain in a large prison," he added.

The flight postponement was a setback for a truce deal that has provided a rare respite from bloodshed in much of the country, and has also seen fuel tankers begin arriving at the port of Hodeida, potentially easing fuel shortages in Sana’a and elsewhere.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its allies launched a devastating war against Yemen and imposed a subsequent siege in 2015 a year after the Ansarullah movement took control of Sana’a, igniting a conflict that has caused what the United Nations terms the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The capital's airport has been closed to commercial traffic since August 2016 when Saudi airstrikes disrupted service to the city.

Aid flights continue to land in Sana’a, although service has periodically halted.

The pause of commercial flights has prevented "thousands of sick Yemeni civilians from seeking urgent medical treatment outside the country," humanitarian groups CARE and the Norwegian Refugee Council said last August.

They also cited "economic losses estimated to be in the billions".




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