Saudis Bar UN Aid Flight to Yemen Over Journalists on Board

Saudis Didn't Want BBC Reporters in Sanaa

Adding to the growing humanitarian scorn being heaped on Saudi Arabia over their war in Yemen, the Saudi Kingdom today blocked a UN humanitarian aid flight from landing in the Yemeni capital city of Sanaa explicitly because international journalists were on board the plane.

The three BBC reporters were on the flight to cover the UN humanitarian operation, but Saudi Arabia warned the plane against taking off from Djibouti with any journalists on board. The UN was critical of the move, saying that journalists need access to Yemen to cover the “large man-made humanitarian problem” there.

That’s likely a big factor, however. Saudi Arabia and its allies have blockaded Yemen since the start of the war, and while they’ve allowed humanitarian aid into the southern parts of the country they control militarily, they’ve heavily restricted shipments further north, into the Shi’ite-controlled half of the country. This would include Sanaa.

The Saudi coalition suggested the reports would have to take a commercial flight, and wouldn’t be allowed to travel with the UN. At the same time, it’s impossible for the reporters to get on a commercial flight because the Saudi-backed government, which claims to be the only government which can grant visas to fly into the country, has as a matter of practice kept foreign reporters out of the Shi’ite north.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of