UN flight carrying Yemenis needing urgent medical care leaves capital Sana’a

A number of Yemeni children and their families, who were suffering from conditions that cannot be treated inside the war-battered Arab country, have been evacuated from the capital Sana’a, in what the United Nations hopes will be the first of more humanitarian flights.

According to Altaf Musani, who is the representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Sana’a, sixteen passengers left on the first flight to Amman in Jordan after 18 months of negotiations to arrange the mission.

“The majority of the patients are women and children who suffer from conditions such as aggressive forms of cancer and brain tumors, or who need organ transplants and reconstructive surgeries,” the WHO said on Twitter.

Abed Ali Murshid, the father of one of the children waiting for the evacuation flight, told AFP that his son is suffering from kidney failure and needs an organ transplant.

“We are overjoyed. Today is the start of the air bridge that we have been waiting for two years,” he commented.

“Severe diseases in Yemen are many, and people need to travel. The United Nations must operate the air bridge regularly, send abroad patients suffering from diseases, open Sana’a airport, and end the blockade of Yemen,” the father added.

United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen Lise Grande praised the humanitarian flight, saying, “This is the first of what we hope and believe will be many flights.”

Additionally, aid organization the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) welcomed the start of the humanitarian airlift, saying thousands of Yemenis had been handed down a “death sentence” when the Saudi-led military coalition waging a war on Yemen closed down Sana’a International Airport in 2016.