Saudi Arabia ready to receive Yemen aid flights after Sanaa airport closure

Houthi rebels continue to target the kingdom with drones and ballistic missiles

General view of Sanaa International airport, Sanaa, Yemen December 13, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

Saudi Arabia is prepared to receive flights carrying humanitarian aid for Yemen following the closure of Sanaa's international airport by the Houthi rebels, a coalition statement said.

“The Houthis have closed Sanaa airport to UN and international organisation flights since December 19,” the Saudi-led coalition supporting the internationally recognised Yemeni government said.

Aid workers must leave the airport immediately, the coalition said.

International aid organisations have called for the airport to be opened to allow the urgent delivery of aid to millions of Yemenis.

Seperatly, the World Food Program (WFP) said on Wednesday that it has cut aid to Yemen due to lack of funding from donor states.

The organisation also warned of an increase in hunger in the war-torn country.

"From January, 8 million will receive a reduced food ration, while 5 million at immediate risk of slipping into famine conditions will remain on a full ration," the United Nations agency said in a statement.

On Monday the Saudi-led coalition said it carried out air strikes on the airport after asking civilians to leave the area.

"The operation comes in response to threats and the use of the airport's facilities to launch cross-border attacks," it said.

The strikes hit six sites, coalition spokesman Brig Gen Turki Al Malki said. These included places used by the Iran-backed rebels for launching drone attacks, for training and housing drone personnel, and for storing the devices.

"Destroying these targets will not have any effect on the operational capacity of the airport, and will not affect managing the airspace, the air traffic and ground handling operations," he said.

The attacks came in response "to the threat and the use of the airport's facilities to launch cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia," he said.

Gen Al Malki said the strikes were "in accordance with international humanitarian law" and should have no impact on the airport's operational capacity.

On Sunday, the coalition said it destroyed a drone launched from the airport that was aimed at civilians at Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Airport in Jizan, near the border with Yemen.

Updated: December 22nd 2021, 4:43 PM