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25 Jan, 2017 19:18

#End_Yemen_Siege: Activists urge end to conflict & airport reopening

#End_Yemen_Siege: Activists urge end to conflict & airport reopening

As Yemen continues to be ravaged by war, airstrikes and humanitarian disaster, activists have once again taken to social media to highlight the country’s plight and call for an end to the blockade on Sana’a International Airport.

The #End_Yemen_Siege hashtag is being used to raise awareness of the poorest Middle Eastern nation’s humanitarian crisis. 

Read more: #600Days of siege & genocide: Twitterstorm calls for an end to Yemen conflict

More than 10,000 people have have died since the conflict escalated in March 2015, when a Saudi Arabia-led coalition began conducting airstrikes on the country in support of ousted President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who fled after Houthi rebels had taken the capital of Sana’a. 

Much of the focus of the #End_Yemen_Siege campaign is calling for a lifting of the blockade on Sana’a International Airport. The closure of airports in Yemen has further prevented humanitarian aid from reaching those in need, and prevented Yemenis from leaving or returning to the country.  

Some social media activists described the airport closures as being in violation of international law, while others directed their tweets at US President Donald Trump, calling on the new leader to do something.

Read more: Women of Yemen call to arms against Saudi aggression (VIDEO)

The United Nations special envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, called on the Yemeni government to “allow the resumption of commercial flights to Sana’a without further delay and for all parties to ensure the safety of the airport and air traffic,” as he concluded his mission to Yemen on Monday.

"The restrictions on travel in and out of Sana’a airport have prevented scores of Yemenis from receiving badly-needed medical treatment and have left many others stranded outside the country,” he said. “This cannot continue.”

The coalition imposed a no-fly-zone on the country in late March 2015, while the Saudi air force bombed the airport and planes in April of that year. 

In August, Oxfam and 11 other aid agencies called on the Saudi-led coalition of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan to end restrictions in Yemeni airspace and to allow flights to resume from Sana’a International.

READ MORE: US may be complicit in Yemen ‘war crimes’ – HRW

The US and the UK have been criticized for their role in arming and supporting the Saudi-led coalition, despite evidence of war crimes, mounting civilian casualties and pressure from human rights agencies.

“Foreign governments have continued to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, despite growing evidence the coalition has been committing unlawful airstrikes,” Human Rights Watch wrote in its annual report. “US and UK lawmakers, whose governments altogether approved more than $20 billion and $4 billion worth of weapons sales, respectively to Saudi Arabia in 2015 alone, have increasingly challenged the continuation of these sales.”