Al Jazeera: Yemen’s Houthi rebels say they have signed a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations to airlift critically ill patients abroad for treatment.
The Houthi-run Saba news agency reported on Saturday that the memorandum, signed between Foreign Minister Hisham Sharaf Abdullah and the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, Lise Grande, would include transporting critically ill Yemenis abroad from Tuesday 18 September, for a period of six months.
“The memorandum of understanding is the first step to alleviate the suffering of patients in need of treatment abroad,” said Abdullah.
“The move does not in any way mean we are delaying our demand to reopen Sanaa International Airport for commercial and civil flights. The air bridge covers only a limited number of cases, but it is necessary in light of the continued siege and aggression.”
Fighting has intensified in the war-ravaged country after UN-sponsored peace talks collapsed before they could officially start.
The talks, which would have been the first in nearly two years, were scheduled to take place in the Swiss city of Geneva on September 6 but the Houthi delegation failed to leave Sanaa.
Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons, reporting from neighbouring Djibouti, said Saturday’s agreement could mark a “potential breakthrough” following the failure of the summit.
“The Houthis have been in the Omani capital meeting with UN officials, including Martin Griffiths, the UN special envoy. They say they have signed a memorandum of understanding to transport a number of injured people abroad.”