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Houthi calls for lifting of air embargo on Sana’a airport, end to Saudi-led attacks

The leader of Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement has called on the United Nations to work out effective mechanisms aimed at ending the air embargo on Sana’a airport, which has already taken its toll on the Yemeni civilian population, as well as the devastating Saudi-led military campaign against the country.

During a meeting with the UN special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths in the Yemeni capital Sana’a on Monday, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi underlined his group’s firm stance on peace in Yemen, saying Ansarullah is acting seriously and responsibly in this regard.

He also pointed to the sufferings of Yemeni people as a result of the ongoing Saudi-led coalition airstrikes and the siege, stressing the need for an end to the attacks and lifting the blockade of Sana’a airport.

“The humanitarian situation in the country is critical. Sana’a International Airport as well as residents of al-Durayhimi city (in the western coastal province of Hudaydah) are still under siege by the Saudi-led coalition,” the Ansarullah leader stated.

Houthi also touched down on the repeated violations of a UN-backed agreement signed between Ansarullah representatives and delegates loyal to the Riyadh-sponsored government of Yemen’s ex-president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, in Sweden last year, saying the UN should focus more on the implementation of the accord.

Ansarullah delegates and Hadi loyalists held a round of peace negotiations in Rimbo, north of the Swedish capital city of Stockholm, last December. The talks resulted in the announcement of a breakthrough agreement.

The document includes three provisions: a ceasefire along the Hudaydah front and the redeployment of armed forces out of the city and its port; an agreement on prisoner exchange; and a statement of understanding on the southern Yemeni city of Ta’iz.

On Saturday, the spokesman for Yemeni Armed Forces warned against the continued violation of Sweden Agreement, saying such infringements have led to the deaths and injuries of hundreds of civilians.

Brigadier General Yahya Saree said the Saudi-led coalition and its mercenaries continue to flout the agreement and keep on implementing escalatory steps in the strategic Red Sea port city of Hudaydah, stressing that such actions will have dire repercussions.

Saree highlighted that the continued violation of Hudaydah truce has so far resulted in the deaths of 175 people, including 63 children, 27 women and 85 men. Another 481 civilians, including 169 children, 97 women and 215 men, have sustained injuries as well.

The senior Yemeni military official then held the United Nations and the Security Council responsible for the escalation of the situation in Hudayda.

“Our forces are ready to respond to any folly or escalatory step. The coalition aggression and its mercenaries will have to bear the brunt then,” Saree emphasized.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of Hadi back to power and crushing the Ansarullah movement.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 100,000 lives over the past four and a half years.

The war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN says over 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including 10 million suffering from extreme levels of hunger.