Published: Fri, August 11, 2017
Economy | By Annette Adams

NRC: Lack of getting medical help overseas kills more in Yemen

NRC: Lack of getting medical help overseas kills more in Yemen

NRC director in Yemen Mutasim Hamdan said Wednesday "beyond airstrikes and cholera, the war in Yemen is devastating Yemeni lives on all fronts".

The Houthis control most of the north, including the capital Sanaa and its global airport while the Saudi-led coalition controls the airspace.

Restrictions imposed on Yemen's airspace by the Saudi-led coalition resulted in the official closure of the Sanaa International Airport to commercial flights on August 9, 2016, leaving many Yemenis with no safe means of transport in or outside the country.

Aid groups have issued a statement calling on Yemen's warring parties to reopen the country's main airport, saying the year-long closure has trapped thousands of sick patients and is stopping vital humanitarian supplies.

There are about 10 United Nations humanitarian flights into Yemen each week. A cholera epidemic, which began in April 2015, has infected more than 425,000 people and killed 1,900, according to the UN.

"Closing Sanaa airport and limiting it to relief efforts came as a precaution to ensure the safety of all inbound commercial and cargo flights due to the Houthi armed militia's attempts to smuggle arms into the country. The result is devastating; thousands of women, men and children who could have been saved have now lost their lives", said Hamdan. Mohammed's father died less than a day before his flight.

Yemeni rescue workers carry a victim on a stretcher amid the rubble of a destroyed building in Sana'a, October 2016.

On Wednesday, however, 15 aid groups and the Houthi rebels called on the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen to reopen the airport, saying the year-long closure was hindering aid and preventing thousands of patients from flying overseas for life-saving treatment. Any reopening would need an agreement between the two sides, which blame each other for Yemen's humanitarian disaster.

About "10,000 Yemenis have now died from health conditions for which they were seeking medical treatment overseas", the aid agency said, citing figures from the rebels' health ministry.

Aid groups, along with the Huthis, on Wednesday appealed to the Saudi-led Arab coalition to allow the delivery of desperately-needed supplies to Yemen, which now faces a deadly cholera epidemic and the imminent threat of starvation.

Houthi media attack the Sudanese government and denounce Sudan's participation in the Saudi-led military coalition intervened in a civil war in Yemen in March 2015. "The importance of unhampered delivery of humanitarian aid can not be overstated".

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