RIYADH – The Saudi-led Arab coalition fighting to restore order in Yemen called on Thursday on the United Nations to reopen and take control of Sana’a International Airport which is located in a disputed area and has remained closed for a year.
A spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition, Colonel Turki al-Maliki, said the coalition “is prepared to restore normal flight activity.”
The announcement came hours after the UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed asked the coalition to reopen the airport, which has been blocked by the alliance for over a year.
In a brief message on his Twitter count, the UN envoy reiterated his call for “the urgent and immediate need to open Sana’a Intl airport,” which he said was crucial “to alleviate the suffering of Yemenis” and ensure the arrival of humanitarian aid.
The coalition has taken control over the Yemeni airspace since March 2015 to support the internationally recognized President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is fighting against the Hutu rebels.
Sana’a and most of the country’s northern and western regions are currently under the control of the rebel forces.
Since Aug. 9, 2016, aircraft are not allowed to land in Sana’a, except for NGO flights, and flights operated by Yemeni airlines are currently flying daily from Amman in Jordan and Cairo in Egypt to the Yemeni cities of Aden and Seiyun.
Since late 2014, Yemen has been ravaged by a war between the Shia rebels and the forces loyal to President Hadi, who subsequently had to move his government to Aden after insurgents seized control of the capital in the first months of the conflict.
The country also suffers one of the world’s most serious famines, which risks the lives of over 17 million Yemenis, as well as a cholera outbreak, which has caused at least 1,300 deaths and is believed to have infected 400,000 people, according to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO).