Sanaa, December 31, 2021 – United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, David Gressly, issued the following statement today:
Sana’a International Airport is essential for aid operations in northern Yemen.
Although closed to regular civilian flights since 2016, the United Nations and other humanitarian actors rely on the airport to transport aid workers and supplies that help deliver life-saving assistance to millions of people every month.
The closure of the airport to humanitarian flights seriously jeopardizes aid operations, and I remain deeply concerned about any further disruption.
After the airport was closed by authorities in Sana’a on December 19 and airstrikes the following night, a United Nations team visited the airport on December 21 and determined that it remained operational in the event of an emergency. ’emergency.
Humanitarian flights are urgent in nature. I call on the authorities in Sana’a to refrain from suspending humanitarian flights in the future, even for technical reasons, without prior consultations and without mutual agreement with the United Nations. The temporary reopening of the airport on December 27 was a positive development.
Humanitarian flights must also be operated under the best possible safety and security conditions. Sana’a airport communications equipment experienced technical problems. In the past 18 months, UN aid crews have reported at least 10 cases in which they were unable to contact the air traffic control tower at Sana’a airport or had unclear communications – a situation potentially dangerous. The Sanaa Civil Aviation and Meteorology Authority (CAMA) considers the equipment obsolete.
CAMA purchased new equipment for the control tower in 2019, which the United Nations agreed to fly to Sana’a airport. But the Saudi-led coalition’s Evacuation and Humanitarian Operations Committee (EHOC) did not authorize the transfer, despite several UN requests, citing the need for Yemen’s government approval.
In order to ensure maximum safety and reliability for humanitarian flights, I urge the Government of Yemen to allow the importation of the equipment, the contents of which have been verified by EHOC in December 2021. The equipment is required to ensure the safe use of Sana. ” an airport for humanitarian flights and, by extension, the continuation of the aid operation in Yemen
Timeline for publishers
November 2019 – The President of CAMA calls on the United Nations to transport air traffic control equipment from Djibouti to Sana’a.
November 23, 2019 – The United Nations first requests authorization from the EHOC to transport the equipment.
December 19, 2021 – Director of CAMA suspends flights to and from Sana’a International Airport citing security reasons due to reported failures in communication equipment essential to the operation of air traffic control systems .
December 20, 2021 – The United Nations shares reports with EHOC on communication failures in 2020 and 2021.
December 22, 2021 – In response to a renewed United Nations request for permission to transport equipment from Djibouti to Sanaa, EHOC says it could not provide the clearance because the government of Yemen, based in Aden, had not authorized the importation of this equipment.
December 27, 2021 – CAMA is temporarily resuming humanitarian flights, following repairs to existing communications equipment. But CAMA says that the continued operation of these devices over the long term is not guaranteed due to their age.