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Rights Group Says Yemen Airport Closure Has Cost 10,000 Lives

Relief group claims lack of humanitarian aid killed more than airstrikes

A report from an international aid group claims the forced closure of a Yemeni airport has claimed more lives than military airstrikes. In an article published by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), the humanitarian organization says the forced closure of Sana’a International Airport (SAH) has led to the death of 10,000 people – exceeding the number of deaths attributed to violence.

According to the NRC, the issues began when the airport was forced to close last year due to international restrictions lead by Saudi Arabia. As a result, Yemenis who require care not available in the country cannot travel for medical procedures. Without a way to access medical care or regularly transport medical supplies, the country is facing an outbreak of cholera, infecting over 450,000 and killing 1,900.

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

Before the airport closed, the NRC estimated as many as 7,000 people would travel from Yemen to seek medical treatment. Since the airport closed on August 9, 2016, those same individuals have very limited ways to escape violence and seek required care to sustain their lives.

Medical care is not the only problem facing the war-torn nation. According to NRC, approximately three-quarters of the population require humanitarian aid, while 17 million suffer from food insecurity as a result of conflicts.

“Yemen’s public services are crumbling under the pressures of war: hundreds of thousands more people are sick, injured or in need of services, but there are drastically reduced resources to meet them,” Hamdan said in the report. “It is critical that all channels of domestic and international air movement are reopened so Yemenis can get help, and help can get to Yemenis.”

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