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UN calls for easing blockade main airport Yemen

Humanitarian aid desperately needed in war-torn country

Access to Yemen is proving to be onerous for humanitarians. The United Nations has summoned the Saudi-led coalition and urged them to ease the blockade of Sanaa airport so that humanitarians can bring aid into the country and the injured can get out. The coalition has blocked the main airport of the war-torn Yemen for the past year.

Yemen has been devastated by war

One of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters is currently taking place in Yemen. For the last twelve months, access to Yemen has been heavily restricted and practically next to impossible. This is especially because the main airport has been shut down by a Saudi-led coalition since it is in a territory controlled by its opponents; the Houthi rebels.

Consequently, millions of people are trapped. It has halted incoming aid to a great extent. Only the UN, Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) humanitarian flights have been allowed in and out. Care International’s Wael Ibrahim, the country director in capital Sanaa, described the blockade as a collective punishment for people in Yemen. “There is absolutely no justification for the airport to continue to close,” he said to ABC News.

"The commercial sector is unable to bring in goods, unable to bring in medical supplies, bring in money," Ibrahim said. "Sick people are unable to travel for medical treatment." Before crucial aid can get to where it’s most needed, it has to pass through several diversions.

The closure of Sanaa Airport comes at a time when Yemen is on the brink of a famine. More than 17 million people are in need of food aid, according to the World Food Programme. One in three children suffers severe malnutrition; one of the highest rates in the world.

The Yemeni Ministry of Health estimated 10,000 people have already died because they could not get specialist treatment inside the country, or to other locations in the country where they were needed.

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