Saudi-led coalition forces Red Cross plane to land

Saudi-led coalition forces Red Cross plane to land after flying over Yemen
2 min read
25 July, 2018
The Saudi-led coalition forced a Red Cross aircraft heading to Djibouti to land after flying over Yemen.
Saudi Arabia accused the Red Cross of putting its employees in danger [Getty]

A Saudi-led coalition battling in Yemen on Tuesday said it forced a Red Cross plane to land in southern Saudi Arabia after it veered off course to fly over a military operation area in Yemen.

The plane heading to Djibouti changed its course after taking off from Yemen's rebel-held capital Sanaa, the coalition said in a statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency.

"Coalition forces communicated with the aircraft on the international distress frequency... but the crew did not respond," a coalition spokesman said. 

"Commands were given to redirect the aircraft away from the operations zone but to no avail. The aircraft was forced to land in Jizan" in the south of the kingdom.

The coalition accused the crew of air space violation and jeopardising the safety of four passengers onboard.

The International Committee of the Red Cross later said the plane headed from Sanaa to Djibouti had made "an unscheduled stop" in Jizan "due to technical issues".

"The issue was resolved and the plane has landed in Djibouti this evening," it said in a statement, adding that the ICRC was "investigating".

The humanitarian agency last month pulled 71 of its international staffers from Yemen over rising security threats, following the killing of a Lebanese employee in southern Taiz city in April. 

Those withdrawn from Yemen represent more than half of the ICRC's international staff in the country.

The ICRC said that the decision would lead to the "crippling" of its life-saving work in the war-ravaged country, which includes emergency medical work and food assistance. 

The ICRC is known for its unrelenting commitment to neutrality, seeking to engage all parties in armed conflicts while carrying out humanitarian work.

The conflict between Houthi rebels and Yemen's government, allied with Saudi Arabia, has claimed more than 10,000 lives since 2015. 

Yemen's multi-faceted conflict has pushed the impoverished country to the brink of famine, triggering what the United Nations says is the world's worst humanitarian crisis.