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UAE begins flights to Yemen’s Socotra Island: Report

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A view of Yemen’s Socotra Island

An Emirati airline has launched flights between Abu Dhabi and Yemen’s Socotra Island, which is reported to have been leased to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by the ex-administration in Sana’a.

Ramzy Mahrous, the deputy governor of Socotra, told al-Araby al-Jadid newspaper that Rotana Jet will start direct flights to the Yemeni Archipelago.

According to the daily, the airline announced the start of the flights from this month, offering two flights per week on Saturdays and Wednesdays.

The news comes amid unconfirmed reports that the government of Yemen’s former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, had leased the islands of Socotra and Abd al-Kuri to the UAE for several decades before resigning and fleeing the country to Riyadh in 2014.

According to the report, the UAE has directly supervised what it calls “relief” operations on Socotra Island since the start of the Saudi-led war on Yemen.

Socotra is one of the biggest Yemeni islands in the Indian Ocean and lies near the Gulf of Aden, some 350 kilometers from the Arabian Peninsula.

The island was part of Yemen’s eastern province of Hadhramaut but it was introduced as an independent province in a 2013 presidential decree.

This is while no flights have taken place between Socotra and Yemen’s southern port of Yemen and its other cities since the beginning of the Saudi war on its neighbor.

Saudi Arabia has been leading a destructive and deadly campaign against Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to reinstate Hadi, a close Riyadh ally.

The campaign has seriously damaged Yemen's infrastructure. Local Yemeni sources have put the death toll from the Saudi war at over 12,000, including many women and children.

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