Peace activists have openly applauded the implementation of one of the fundamental components of the UN-sponsored ceasefire agreement, which is thought to boost the prospect of long-term peace in Yemen.
After a six-year wait, the first commercial flight from Yemen’s Sanaa international airport took off on Monday, May 16. The Yemeni plane, with 126 passengers, landed in Jordan at Amman Airport.
Many of the passengers, aside from family in other countries, had been unable to receive adequate medical care in Yemen for years due to the conflict and the Saudi-led blockade.
The UN established a two-month ceasefire in Yemen in April. Sanaa International Airport was able to operate two incoming and two outgoing flights each week because of the cease-fire agreement.
However, a scheduled flight from the airport was canceled at the last minute on April 24 due to a stalemate over who would hand over the passengers’ passports.
The Saudi-led coalition has enforced a total sea, air, and land blockade on Yemen, forcing the airport to close for over six years.
On the other hand, the Houthis refuse to recognize the Saudi-backed administration, which is now overseen by an eight-member presidential council.
The director-general of Sanaa International Airport, Khaled al-Shayef, has demanded compensation from the United Nations for flights canceled in the last two months, according to Yemeni news site Saba. He also refuted claims of “US-Saudi aggression,” claiming that the airport was not ready for planes and that this was the reason for the agreement’s delay in implementation.
During the ceasefire discussions, the Houthis insisted on easing the embargo as a major requirement for peace, as well as a cessation of shelling and the departure of foreign personnel.
Peace activists celebrated Sanaa’s first international flight’s success. The United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, hailed it as a “time of coming together to do more, to begin healing what was damaged, and to carry out the peace agreements.”
Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK praised the gathering’s significance while emphasizing that the conflict in Yemen can only be ended if Saudi Arabia no longer receives US and ally backing.
The UN has dubbed Yemen’s war, which began in 2015 with a Saudi-led international coalition bombing Houthi-controlled areas, the “worst humanitarian crisis of the century.” As a result of the war, hundreds of thousands of people have perished, and millions have gone hungry.