Aid group: Yemen airport closure killed more people than airstrikes


One year since Sanaa airport was closed by a Saudi-led alliance fighting rebels in the country, more Yemenis have died from not being able to travel abroad for medical care than have been killed in airstrikes, an aid group reported on Wednesday.

Around 10,000 Yemenis have since died from health conditions for which they were seeking medical treatment abroad, the Norwegian
Refugee Council (NRC) said, citing data from the Health Ministry in rebel-held Sanaa.

The number exceeds the death toll of nearly 9,000 people killed in violent attacks in Yemen.

Restrictions imposed on Yemen's airspace by the Saudi-led coalition resulted in the official closure of Sana'a airport to commercial
flights on 9 August 2016.

The closure has left many Yemenis with no safe means of transport in or out of the country, the NRC added in a statement.

"Denial of access to travel has condemned thousands of Yemenis with survivable illnesses to death," Mutasim Hamdan, the NRC's Yemen director, said. "Beyond airstrikes and cholera, the war in Yemen is devastating Yemeni lives on all fronts."

More than 54,000 people are estimated to have been killed or injured in Yemen since the escalation of violence in 2015, and close to half a million have been affected by an outbreak of cholera there since April amid a fragile health system.

Yemen's war has intensified since March 2015, when Saudi Arabia and fellow Sunni Muslim countries began an air campaign against the mostly Shia rebels allied with Iran.

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