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Yemenis picket outside UN building in New York to demand end to Saudi siege on Yemen

Yemeni protesters are seen picketing in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York, protesting the Saudi-imposed embargo on the Sana’a International Airport, on August 8, 2019.

Dozens of Yemenis have gathered in front of the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York, protesting against the years-long, crippling embargo imposed by a Saudi-led military coalition on the international airport in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a.

The protesters, who gathered in front of the UN building on Thursday, demanded that the world body take action to end the siege on the Sana’a International Airport.

They held signs that said the embargo had practically turned Yemen into a large prison as some 70 percent of Yemenis used to travel abroad via the airport in the capital.

They also demanded the removal of the Saudi-imposed siege on all Yemeni seaports and airports.

The Saudi-led military coalition that has invaded Yemen has also been enforcing a tight embargo on the airport in the capital — which acts as a lifeline for the impoverished nation — since August 2015, five months after it started the war.

On Monday, the Norwegian Refugee Council and Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE) said in a statement that the four-year suspension of services at the capital’s airport amounted to a “death sentence” for many ill Yemenis.

It also appealed to Yemen’s warring parties to come to an agreement to reopen the airport for commercial flights to “alleviate [the] humanitarian suffering caused by the closure.”

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

He said at the time that there were more than 8,000 dialysis patients in Yemen but they lacked treatment because the Saudis were preventing the entry of the necessary medical equipment and supplies.

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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