Egypt agrees to operate flights between Sanaa, Cairo after 6 yrs

Sanaa: The Yemeni government on Tuesday announced that Egypt agreed to operate direct flights between Cairo and Sanaa, which is under the control of the Houthis, as part of a truce in the impoverished, war-torn country.

This comes after the first commercial flight took off on May 16 in six years from Sanaa to the Jordanian capital, Amman.

“We express our deep thanks to the brotherly Egyptian government for meeting the Yemeni government’s request and for agreeing to operate direct flights between Sanaa and Cairo in accordance with the armistice agreement,” Yemeni Foreign Minister Ahmed bin Mubarak wrote on Twitter.

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For its part, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry announced in a statement that Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry received a call from United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in which he expressed his “sincere thanks… for allowing direct flights between Cairo and Sanaa within the framework of the UN armistice in Yemen.”

On March 26, 2015, EgyptAir decided to stop its flights from Cairo to Sanaa until further notice, following the response of an Arab military coalition led by the Saudi neighbor to a request from the Yemeni presidency to confront the Houthi movements against legitimacy.

Sanaa airport has been closed to civilian flights by the Arab coalition since August 2016, after the Houthis were accused of using it for military purposes, which the group denied.

Commercial flights from Sanaa to Amman and vice versa resumed on May 16, while Houthi media reported that Cairo refused to receive Yemenis with travel documents issued by Sanaa and not from the legitimate authority.

On April 2, a UN-brokered truce took effect, to last for two months. The agreement includes allowing commercial flights from Sanaa International Airport, which has been open only to aid flights since 2016, which represents a rare glimmer of hope in the conflict after a devastating war.

The Yemeni government and the Houthis accused each other of violating the truce, but the agreement succeeded in significantly reducing levels of violence. 

The Houthis announced on Tuesday, May 17, that they were studying a possible extension of the UN-brokered truce. The UN envoy to Yemen, Hans Grundberg, had said he was working with the two sides to overcome challenges and ensure the extension of the armistice.

The conflict in Yemen is between the Houthis, who control Sanaa and other areas in the north and west of the country, and government forces backed by a Saudi-led military coalition. The conflict has killed more than 377,000 people directly or as a result of the war’s repercussions, according to the United Nations. 

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