August 14, 2016

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

c_Map-of-Sanaa_airport_and_city.pngHandicap International and 11 other aid agencies today called on the Saudi-led coalition to lift restrictions on Yemeni airspace and allow the reopening of the country's main airport, Sana’a International, to allow humanitarian flights to resume. 

“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," said Syma Jamil, NRC Country Director on behalf of the INGOs in Yemen.

“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.

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. 

Jamil added: “The closure effectively seals Yemen off to 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 and allow 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, August 8. As of Sunday, August 14, 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.


The following NGOs participated

  • Action Contre la Faim/Action Against Hunger
  • Care
  • Danish Refugee Council
  • Global Communities
  • Handicap International
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Mercy Corps
  • Norwegian Refugee Council
  • Oxfam
  • Save The Children

Handicap International Yemen Operations Coordinator available for comment

More on Handicap International's work in Yemen


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Mica Bevington, Director of Communications and Marketing
Handicap International US
 +1 (240) 450-3531