SANA’A (Dispatches) – The closure of Yemen’s Sana’a International Airport due to the Saudi regime’s restrictions has led to the deaths of over 95,000 patients who were in urgent need of medical treatment overseas, an official in the Yemeni government says.
Raed Taleb, undersecretary of the General Authority for Civil Aviation and Meteorology (CAMA), announced the figures during a press conference and an anti-U.S. and anti-Saudi protest vigil held by the Ministry of Transport and CAMA at the airport, coinciding with the fifth anniversary since the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition imposed restrictions on the country’s airspace, resulting in the closure of the main airport to commercial flights.
According to Taleb, over 480,000 patients who urgently need to travel for treatment abroad are affected, with more than 30 of them dying a day. “More than a million patients are at risk of death as a result of the lack of many medicines for chronic diseases, which were transported through Sana’a International Airport under special transport conditions,” he said.
The Director of Sana’a International Airport, Khaled Al-Shayef, also explained that the continued closure of Sana’a airport to civilian flights over the years has exacerbated the humanitarian situation in the country, deemed the worst in the world by the UN.
“There are international demands to open Sana’a airport as a result of the catastrophic humanitarian repercussions of its continued closure, and the coalition countries are still insisting on linking this to other files, including military and political ones,” Al-Shayef said.
Last week, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and CARE reported that the closure of the airport had left thousands of Yemeni patients stranded in the war-torn country. The closure is also causing economic losses estimated to be in the billions.
“It’s like a hostage situation that has lasted for five years,” said NRC Yemen Acting Country Director, Isaac Ooko.
“Patients are trapped in Yemen, even when there is a route to save them. For thousands of sick Yemenis who need urgent medical treatment abroad, these last five years have amounted to a death sentence. For five years Yemenis have been stripped of their right to travel abroad to seek medical care, conduct business, work, study or visit family. Thousands of Yemenis living abroad are stranded outside the country or face difficulties visiting home.”
Saudi Arabia and many of its allies have been waging a war on Yemen since 2015 to restore power there to the country’s Riyadh-friendly former officials.
The war and the simultaneous siege that the Saudi-led coalition has been enforcing on the Arab world’s already poorest nation, has killed hundreds of thousands of Yemenis.
The invasion has pushed the entire Yemen close to the brink of outright famine, turning the country into the scene of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Yemen’s defense forces have, however, vowed not to lay down their arms or stop their resistance operations until the country’s complete liberation.
Yemeni officials hold the West and the international community responsible for the catastrophe in Yemen either by their failure to address the issue or by supporting the Saudi-led coalition.