Closure of Yemen’s main airport puts millions of people at risk

Published: 14th August 2016

Oxfam and eleven other aid agencies have called on the Saudi-led coalition to lift restrictions on Yemeni airspace in order to allow for the reopening of the country’s main airport, Sana’a International, and to allow humanitarian flights to resume. Alongside humanitarian flights, commercial flights which also often bring in vital supplies and allow the free movement of civilians should also be allowed to recommence. 

Syma Jamil, NRC Country Director on behalf of the INGOs in Yemen said: “The closure of Yemen’s main airport, which serves much of the country, is inexcusable when millions of Yemeni families are in urgent need of life-saving assistance. 

“The closure only serves to make it even more difficult for aid agencies to get help to those that desperately need it, cutting off an important humanitarian assistance lifeline. All parties to the conflict must ensure that they allow humanitarian aid to reach the Yemeni population, in line with their obligations under international law.” 

As a result of the conflict, over 14 million Yemenis are in need of food aid. One in three Yemeni children under five years old – approximately 1.3 million – are suffering from acute malnutrition.

Jamil added: “The closure effectively seals Yemen off from the rest of the world at a time when half the population is malnourished and hospitals urgently require more medicine and medical supplies. We call on the Saudi-led coalition to immediately lift all airspace restrictions in order to allow for the airport to be re-opened without further delay.”

The announced closure of Yemen’s airspace for a period of 72 hours was made on Monday, 8 August. As of Sunday 14 August, the airspace remains closed. The airspace closure coincides with a resumption of airstrikes on Sana’a and other parts of Yemen, which put the lives of Yemeni civilians as serious risk. Already the first civilian casualties – including children – from renewed aerial bombardments are being reported.

Notes to editors

Signatories include:

  • ACF International 
  • Care
  • Danish Refugee Council 
  • Global Communities 
  • Handicap International
  • International Rescue Committee 
  • Intersos
  • Mercy Corps 
  • Norwegian Refugee Council
  • Oxfam
  • Save The Children

Contact information

Benjamin Wiacek, Yemen Media Lead | | +216 53 547 791

For updates, please follow @Oxfam.