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The UN envoy for Yemen was scheduled to arrive in the rebel-held capital Monday, a UN source said, as pressure mounted to reopen Sanaa international airport after a three-year shutdown, reports BSS/AFP.
Envoy Martin Griffiths was expected to hold talks with Yemen’s Huthi rebels in Sanaa, the UN source told AFP on condition of anonymity, ahead of potential negotiations in Sweden this month aimed at ending nearly four years of war in the Arab world’s poorest country.
A Saudi-led military coalition allied with the Yemeni government against the Iran-backed Huthis announced it would allow for the evacuation of wounded rebels on a UN chartered plane Monday.
The decision is a key step in kickstarting stalled negotiations, as world powers press for an end to the conflict that has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.
The United Nations source told AFP the reopening of Sanaa international airport, controlled by the rebels and largely destroyed by Saudi-led air raids, was a priority at the planned peace talks.
Saudi Arabia and its allies control Yemen’s maritime borders and airspace and have severely restricted imports to the country, where the UN warns 14 million people risk starvation. The alliance accuses the Huthis of smuggling arms from Iran through Sanaa airport and Yemen’s many ports.
Yemen’s Huthi rebels announced at the weekend that Sanaa international airport could now meet the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to ‘receive civilian flights’.