Saudi-led Coalition Cripples Key Yemen Airport With Overnight Air Raid

'Without Sanaa airport and Hodeidah and Salif seaports fully functioning and able to receive cargo, the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen will continue,' said a UN spokesman

Yemenis check the damage at a navigation station at Sanaa International Airport that was destroyed in Saudi-led air strikes in the Yemeni capital on November 15, 2017
Yemenis check the damage at a navigation station at Sanaa International Airport that was destroyed in Saudi-led air strikes in the Yemeni capital on November 15, 2017 AFP PHOTO / Mohammed HUWAIS

An air raid by the Saudi-led military coalition fighting against the Houthi movement in Yemen shut down the airport in the capital Sanaa on Tuesday, further isolating the country where millions are on the brink of famine, the state news agency SABA reported.

The Saudi-led coalition said last week it had closed all air, land and seaports in Yemen to stem what it said was the flow of arms to the Houthis from Iran.

The air raid destroyed the Sanaa airport's radio navigation station for aircraft, civil aviation authorities told SABA, which is controlled by the Houthis.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday that there had been no humanitarian flights to Sanaa airport and no humanitarian or commercial shipments to Hodeidah and Salif ports since Nov. 6.

"Without Sanaa airport and Hodeidah and Salif seaports fully functioning and able to receive cargo, the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen will continue," Dujarric told reporters in New York. "Seven million people are already on the brink of famine and the blockade will only bring them closer to it."

However, Yemen's national airline said on Tuesday a commercial flight had landed at Aden international airport after acquiring security permits, a step that will ease a blockade on one of the poorest Arab nations. 

The Houthis control most of the north, including Sanaa and its international airport, while the Saudi-led coalition dominates the airspace. Any reopening would need an agreement between the two sides, which blame each other for Yemen’s humanitarian disaster.

The top UN aid official in Yemen called on the Saudi-led coalition on Tuesday to open all Yemen's sea ports urgently, saying it risked damaging the fight against cholera and hunger.

Millions of lives were at risk because of the blockade, UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, said to reporters in Geneva by telephone from Amman.

The Saudi-led coalition was not immediately available for comment.