Last updated: 27 April, 2015

Thousands of stranded Yemenis to be flown home: minister

Thousands of Yemenis stranded overseas because of fighting in their homeland will be flown home in coming days, a member of the exiled cabinet said on Monday in the Saudi capital.

Beginning Thursday, two planes daily will fly to the capital Sanaa and a third will go to Sayun, hundreds of kilometres further east, Minister of Transport Bader Ba-Salama said at a press conference with two of his cabinet colleagues.

They said more than 25,000 Yemenis are stranded around the world because of the fighting in Yemen, which worsened in March when Iran-backed Shiite Huthi rebels advanced on the southern port city of Aden.

“We hope as soon as possible to bring all these people home,” Ba-Salama said, adding that about 500 will return on the planned flights every day.

The Huthis’ push forced President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee Aden for the Saudi capital Riyadh where Ba-Salama and other members of his government are based.

On March 26 a Saudi-led coalition began airstrikes against the Huthis who are allied with army units loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The Huthis are fighting forces loyal to Hadi.

Asked whether conditions are suitable to return the students, tourists and others who have been stuck overseas, Ba-Salama said:

“It is suitable in the majority of the areas but not in Aden… We will not bring the people there.”

Other areas of the country “are more peaceful,” he said.

Yet, the ministers presented data showing that 70 percent of Yemenis are living below the poverty line, 12 million are short of food, and prices of the basic foods that are available have jumped 40-110 percent.

Fighting has destroyed 365,000 homes, said the data.

Minister for Human Rights Ezaldeen al-Asbahi and Information Minister Nadia al-Saqqaf joined Ba-Salama at the press conference in the Yemen embassy, beneath a picture of Hadi.

The United Nations estimates that about half of the more than 1,000 people killed in the Yemen fighting since late March were civilians.