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Saudi-led air blockade of Yemen 'death sentence' for thousands: Groups

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)
Officials of Felix Airways, a domestic Yemeni airline, inspect a plane destroyed by Saudi airstrikes at Sana’a International Airport in Yemen on April 29, 2015. (Photo by The Associated Press)

International humanitarian groups have censured the Saudi-led air blockade of Yemen and closure of the airport in the war-torn country’s capital city of Sana’a, arguing that the measure has prevented thousands of sick civilians from traveling abroad for urgent medical treatment.

The Norwegian Refugee Council and Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE) said late on Monday that the three-year suspension of services at Sana'a International Airport has amounted to a "death sentence" for many sick Yemenis.

They appealed on Yemen's warring parties to come to an agreement to reopen the airport for commercial flights to “alleviate humanitarian suffering caused by the closure.”

The wreckage of a Yemeni air force military transport aircraft is seen on the tarmac after the aircraft was destroyed by a Saudi airstrike at Sana’a International Airport, Yemen, on May 5, 2015. (Photo by Reuters)

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Press TV in late May, Yemeni Health Minister Taha al-Mutawakil said the Saudi blockade had hampered efforts to help Yemeni civilians with medical assistance.

Mutawakil said many Yemenis were suffering from acute malnutrition.

He also added that there were more than 8000 dialysis patients, but they lacked treatment because the Saudis were preventing the entry of dialysis equipment and supplies.

Mutawakil further highlighted that the number of cancer cases had also increased due relentless Saudi bombardments and its use of internationally-banned ammunition.

The Yemeni health minister also slammed the international community for offering no help and staying silent about Saudi crimes in Yemen.

On Tuesday, Saudi-led military aircraft launched five airstrikes against a number of residential areas in the Sahar district of Yemen’s northwestern province of Sa’ada. There were no immediate reports about possible casualties and the extent of damage caused.

Yemeni army soldiers and fighters from allied Popular Committees also launched a retaliatory attack, killing and injuring several Saudi-backed militiamen loyal to Yemen's former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi as they pounded the mercenaries’ positions east of Jabal al-Nar in Saudi Arabia’s southern border region of Jizan.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of Hadi back to power and crushing Ansarullah movement.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the Saudi-led war has claimed the lives of over 60,000 Yemenis since January 2016.

The war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN says over 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including 10 million suffering from extreme levels of hunger.

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