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AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s internationally recognized government on Wednesday offered to open official passport offices in Sanaa and other Houthi-controlled areas so that citizens can access travel documents, a move which, according to him, could end the stalemate on commercial flights from territory controlled by the militant group.
The first commercial flight due to take off from Sanaa airport for Amman on Sunday was postponed indefinitely after the Iran-backed Houthis added dozens of passengers with unauthorized passports.
The government has accused the Houthis of attempting to provide Lebanese and Iranian military experts and fighters with fake passports so they can leave the country. The Houthis had refused to allow 104 passengers on the plane to leave Sanaa and insisted on including 60 people with documents issued in their territory.
To break the deadlock, Muammar Al-Eryani, Yemeni Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, proposed that his government open a new passport office at Sanaa airport, in coordination with the office of the UN envoy to Yemen.
If the Houthis accept this offer, the office could be fully operational within 10 days, the Yemeni minister said. The government would also provide special booths in areas under its control for those in Houthi territory seeking travel documents.
Al-Eryani urged the Houthis to allow passengers with official documents to fly from Sanaa airport to Amman, promising to help those with Houthi-issued passports obtain new government-issued ones.
The Houthis rejected the offer and accused their opponents of violating Yemeni law and the UN-brokered deal.
Hussein Al-Ezzi, a Houthi official, said the country’s laws give citizens “the right to obtain a travel document from any province” in Yemen, including areas under their control.
But government officials say issuing passports is a matter of legitimate administration.
The postponement of the first commercial flight sparked outrage among thousands of Yemenis seeking medical help and prompted UN envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg to convene a meeting between the parties to find a solution.
Under the UN-brokered two-month truce that went into effect on April 2, Yemen’s flag carrier, Yemenia, would operate twice-weekly flights from Sanaa airport to Amman and Cairo; while at least 18 ships carrying fuel would be allowed to enter the port of Hodeidah. The Houthis and the Yemeni army had agreed to stop fighting on all fronts and open roads in the provinces, including lifting the Houthi siege on Taiz.
However, the Houthis repeatedly violated the ceasefire agreement by continuing to mobilize forces and attacking the town of Marib, while ordering some of its supporters to carry out raids in Taiz.
On Wednesday, a government committee formed by the Presidential Leadership Council to manage the Houthis’ seven-year siege of Taiz, called on the UN envoy to order the Houthis to open the main roads that connect the densely populated city. in Sanaa, Hodeidah and Aden, and hand over maps showing the location of landmines.
“As a committee approved by the legitimate government, we request that you order the other side (the Houthi militia) besieging Taiz province to promptly open all major roads leading to Taiz city and the connect to other provinces,” the committee said in a letter. at the envoy’s office.
Separately, local media reported that at least four people were killed when torrential rains and floods hit parts of Yemen in the past 48 hours. Khaled Al-Shajani, the deputy head of the Marib office which helps internally displaced people, said at least 20 families were sleeping rough after floods swept away their tents.
The heavy rains also partially destroyed tents and spoiled food for about 40 other families, the Yemeni official said. Yemen’s National Meteorological Center said on Wednesday more heavy rain and thunderstorms were expected, and warned people to cross flooded areas and drive in low visibility conditions.