The plane, which arrived in the late morning (around 0900 GMT) in the Jordanian capital Amman according to local authorities, was carrying around 100 Yemeni passengers, most of them sick or elderly, AFP correspondents have noted. .
“I’m so happy with the opening of Sanaa airport,” Loutfia, a wheelchair passenger who declined to give her last name, told AFP. “Today is a day of celebration and I hope it will continue God willing,” she added in tears.
The aircraft took off shortly after 9 a.m. local time (0600 GMT) for a flight of about three hours before landing in Amman. Another plane is due to leave the Jordanian capital for Sanaa later in the afternoon.
“I came to Jordan to treat my three-year-old daughter who has a brain tumor,” Mohamed Zaid told AFP on his arrival in Amman.
“The plane was full of people who had lost hope of any treatment in Yemen and had been waiting for this opportunity for seven years,” he added.
In a statement, the UN envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, welcomed an “important and long-awaited step” by the many Yemenis who want “to seek treatment abroad, pursue studies, seize professional opportunities or reunite with loved ones”.
Washington also welcomed this advance. “The United States encourages the parties to seize this opportunity to advance peace efforts more generally for the good of the Yemeni people,” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement.
Houthi rebels took control of the Yemeni capital in 2014, sparking a bloody conflict with the internationally recognized government.
A military coalition led by neighboring Saudi Arabia has been intervening since 2015 to support loyalist forces.
This coalition controls all of Yemen’s air and sea space, including areas where rebels have taken power, particularly in the northwest of this poor country on the Arabian Peninsula.
Only UN flights have been allowed at the airport in the Yemeni capital since 2016.
The Houthis, close to Iran, accuse Riyadh of maintaining a “blockade” on Yemen, the Saudis saying they want to guard against arms smuggling and other clandestine activities.
Since April 2, the parties in conflict have observed a national truce which has given a rare glimmer of hope to a population of around 30 million, delivered to one of the worst humanitarian tragedies in the world.
This truce provides, in addition to a relatively well-respected ceasefire, the gradual opening of Sanaa airport to commercial flights.
These long-awaited flights will not, however, be sufficient to meet “the enormous needs” of the Yemeni population, largely cut off from the world in recent years, warns Raed Jabal, deputy director of the Civil Aviation Authority.
“We ask the UN and the competent authorities for the permanent opening of Sanaa airport for all the Yemeni people, without any restrictions or conditions,” he told reporters, just before attending. when the first plane departs.
– “Save lives” –
In a statement, the Norwegian Refugee Council hailed Monday’s flight as “one of the main objectives of the truce”.
“If the parties to the conflict continue to cooperate to ensure regular flights to and from Sanaa, they can help save thousands of lives, prevent premature deaths and support the country’s economy,” Erin said. Hutchinson, director of the NGO for Yemen.
The war caused a collapse of the economy and infrastructure, including hospitals, in a country already among the poorest in the world.
The conflict in Yemen has left nearly 380,000 dead (direct and indirect victims of the war) and millions displaced, parked in makeshift camps and faced with disease and a lack of drinking water.
A large part of the population is in conditions of acute hunger close to famine, according to various humanitarian organizations.