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Aid groups say Yemen airport closure hinders aid, traps patients

10 August 2017

The number exceeds the alarming death toll of close to 9,000 people killed in violent attacks.

NRC country director Mutasim Hamdan said it was vital that the airport reopen.

"Yemen's public services are crumbling under the pressures of war", said the NRC's Hamdan.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said the coalition's blockade of the airport was causing more deaths than its air strikes on the rebels.

In March 2015, Sudan called on its nationals to register at the embassy and be prepared to be evacuated following several armed but low key attacks on its premises immediately after Sudan joined the Saudi-led military operations against the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

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The Yemeni foreign ministry said the attack intends clearly to harm the relations of the Yemeni people with brotherly and friendly peoples.

According to the World Health Organization, Yemen is now coping with the "world's worst cholera outbreak", which has claimed the lives of at least 1,800 people and infected more than 370,000 others.

It said this was roughly equivalent to the number of people that have died as a direct result of the fighting and represented the hidden victims of the conflict.

"Yemenis awaiting critical medical treatment overseas now have to find alternative routes to leave the country, which include a 10-20 hour drive to other airports, often through areas where active fighting takes place", the statement added. "Thousands of women, men and children who could have been saved lost their lives". Mohammed's father died less than a day before his flight.

The cost of food in Yemen is 33% higher than before the conflict, the NRC said.

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The coalition of Arab states forced the closure of Sanaa airport to all but very limited United Nations flights in August a year ago saying it was necessary to prevent arms smuggling. Any reopening would need an agreement between the two sides, which blame each other for Yemen's humanitarian disaster.

The statement, signed by 15 aid groups and published on Wednesday, said: "The current cholera outbreak and near-famine conditions in many parts of Yemen make the situation far worse".

Since 2015, the conflict in Yemen has left over 10,000 civilians dead and displaced three million others. "The importance of unhampered delivery of humanitarian aid can not be overstated".

"Yemenis awaiting critical medical treatment overseas now have to find alternative routes to leave the country, which include a 10- to 20-hour drive to other airports, often through areas where active fighting takes place", the statement said.

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Aid groups say Yemen airport closure hinders aid, traps patients