UN aid flight carrying journalists barred from Yemen

The Arab coalition fighting in Yemen has barred a UN aid flight from heading to Sanaa with journalists on board, the UN and Yemen's government said Wednesday (July 19th).

"The coalition suspended the UN flight leaving Djibouti for Sanaa on Tuesday as there were three BBC journalists on board," Saleh Humeidi, a top official with Yemen's information ministry, told AFP.

The coalition has imposed an air embargo on areas controlled by the Houthis (Ansarallah) and their allies -- including Sanaa, which is under Houthi control.

International organisations require clearance to deliver aid to the country.

The UN on Wednesday confirmed that the flight had been cancelled despite all those on board having the required visas.

"We confirm that the coalition cancelled yesterday the Djibouti-Sanaa UN flight because of a BBC team on the manifest, asking for the flight to be rescheduled without the journalists," said Ahmed Ben Lassoued, Yemen spokesman for the UN's humanitarian co-ordination office, UNOCHA.

Ben Lassoued said the journalists had secured visas from both sides of Yemen's conflict -- government and Houthi authorities -- and shared their itinerary with the coalition.

The information ministry of Yemen's internationally recognised government, based in Aden, said it "regrets the UN attempt" to put journalists on the flight.

Authorities "feared for the safety of the journalists", it said.

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