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Press Release

Closure of Yemen’s main airport puts millions of people at risk

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The International Rescue Committee and eleven other aid agencies today called on the Saudi-led coalition to lift restrictions on Yemeni airspace in order to allow for the reopening of the country’s main airport, Sana’a International, and to allow humanitarian flights to resume.

A spokesperson on behalf of the agencies said: “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.

“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. All parties to the conflict must ensure that they allow humanitarian aid to reach the Yemeni population, in line with their obligations under international law.”

As a result of the conflict, over 14 million Yemenis are in need of food aid. One in three Yemeni children under five years old – approximately 1.3 million – are suffering from acute malnutrition.

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 spokesperson added: “The closure effectively seals Yemen off to the rest of the world at a time when half the population is malnourished and hospitals urgently require more medicine and medical supplies.

“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.”

The announced closure of Yemen’s airspace for a period of 72 hours was made on Monday, 8 August. As of August 14, the airspace remains closed.

The airspace closure coincides with a resumption of airstrikes on Sana’a and other parts of Yemen, which put the lives of Yemeni civilians as serious risk. Already the first civilian casualties – including children – from renewed aerial bombardments are being reported.

The aid agencies signed on to this release are:

  • The International Rescue Committee
  • Save The Children
  • ACTED
  • Global Communities
  • Handicap International
  • Norwegian Refugee Council
  • INTERSOS
  • Mercy Corps
  • Oxfam
  • Danish Refugee Council
  • CARE
  • ACF

 

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 29 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.