Government, Houthi rebels trade blame as plan to resume flights from Sanaa airport fails
Rival factions in Yemen have continued to trade blame over violating a UN ceasefire which came into effect at the start of this month and a failure to reopen the country’s main airport in the capital Sanaa.
Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who overran Sanaa in 2015 and forced the internationally recognised government to flee to Aden, accused the Saudi-led coalition of obstructing the implementation of the truce by not reopening the Sanaa International Airport.
Houthi spokesperson Mohammad Abdelsalam on Tuesday accused the coalition of "intransigence and disavowal," calling on the UN to ensure implementation of the agreement.
The Aden-based Yemeni government, however, accused the Houthi movement of seeking to reopen the airport only to smuggle in Iranian and Hezbollah officials, claiming that it had submitted several proposals to resume flights to and from the airport.
The Lebanon-based Hezbollah movement is also supported by Iran, but has denied militarily involvement in the Yemeni conflict.
"The government, out of its keenness to bypass the obstacles placed by the Houthi militia … has presented several options to make it easy for citizens to obtain passports in unliberated areas," Yemeni Information Minister Moammar El-Aryani said, in reference to Houthi-controlled regions.
"Among these options was to establish a centre for the issuance of passports at the Sanaa airport in coordination with the UN, which would start 10 days after an agreement reached," he added.
On Sunday, the government held the Houthi group responsible for the failure to operate the first commercial flight from Sanaa Airport, accusing the group of not complying with the UN truce, which stipulates that passengers use passports issued by the internationally recognised government.
The airport has been shut since 2016 after a no-fly zone was established by the Saudi-led coalition supporting the government. Flights were set to resume on April 24.
The two-month UN truce, the first nationwide cessation of hostilities since 2016, includes a halt to offensive military operations, and allows fuel imports into areas controlled by the Houthis and some commercial flights to operate from Sanaa.
An estimated 377,000 civilians have died as a result of the Yemen war, either through conflict or from hunger and disease, with millions more displaced.
The conflict has led to what is believed to be the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.