The first commercial flight took off from Sana’a airport on Monday for the first time in six years, raising hope that the UN-sponsored ceasefire truce could pave the road to reaching peace in war-torn Yemen and put an end to the seven-year conflict.
This comes days following the announcement of Yemen’s internationally recognized government to allow passengers holding Houthi-issued passports to travel through Sana’a Airport, which removed the stalled resumption of flights from the rebel-held capital, Sana’a, that was scheduled to take place on April 20 but was delayed due to an issue over Houthi-issued passports, which the Yemeni government consider invalid.
On April 2, a two-month cease-fire truce came into effect between the Yemeni government and the Iran-backed Houthi insurgents. The agreement included the resumption of flights from Sana’a and allowing fuel imports into Houthi-controlled ports, as well as holding separate talks to open roads to the city of Taiz which has been besieged by the Houthi rebels since the war broke out.
UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg welcomed the taking off of the first commercial flight from Sana’a as part of implementing the Truce agreement.
“I would like to congratulate all Yemenis on this important and long-awaited step. I hope this provides some relief to the Yemenis who need to seek medical treatment abroad, pursue education and business opportunities, or reunite with loved ones,” Mr. Grundberg said, “This should be a moment of coming together to do more, to start repairing what the war has broken, and to follow through on all the Truce commitments to build trust and move towards resuming a political process to sustainably end the conflict.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also welcomed this major step, urging the warring parties to adhere to the UN-brokered Truce agreement and to “seize this opportunity to advance broader peace efforts for the sake of the Yemeni people.”
“The United States appreciates the Republic of Yemen Government and the UN Special Envoy’s efforts to enable this flight and thanks the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan for their support,” Blinken said in a statement, underscoring the importance of opening roads to the seven-year besieged city of Taiz, Yemen’s third-largest city.
The Yemeni government, however, has accused the Houthi rebels of being indifferent to the suffering of millions of besieged civilians in Taiz, for they kept avoiding engaging in talks aimed to reopen roads to the besieged city of Taiz.