Flights to airlift patients from the Houthi-held Sanaa airport for treatment abroad will begin on Monday at 3:00 p.m. local time, diplomatic sources close to the matter told Arab News.

The United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths arrived in the capital on Sunday to facilitate a humanitarian “medical air bridge”, the Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV reported.

In cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO), the Saudi-led Arab coalition will launch the evacuation air bridge from Yemen to Egypt and Jordan.

Patients, with chronic diseases which cannot be treated inside Yemen, will be airlifted by the UN chartered flights from Sanaa airport to hospitals in Cairo and Amman.

These mercy flights come as part of “humanitarian, relief efforts and in support of the brethren Yemeni people to alleviate suffering” of patients with difficult illnesses, coalition spokesperson Colonel Turki Al-Maliki said last week.

“This humane step aims to alleviate suffering of citizens who cannot afford the hardship of travel by land to the Republic’s other ports, after the Houthis refused the government’s repeated initiative to operate Sana’a airport for domestic flights,” Yemen’s foreign ministry said in a release carried by the Riyadh-based Saba.

The Houthi-appointed medical bridge committee, Mutahar Derweesh, said last week that WHO had agreed to transport 30 patients and 30 attendants in the first flight, however details of Monday's flight are yet to be confirmed.

There has been a blockade in place on commercial navigation to and from Sanaa airport since early August 2016, allowing only for UN and humanitarian groups’ flights.

The only commercially operated airports in Yemen are in the south in the interim-capital Aden and Seyoun in Hadhramout, where the airports provide limited flights abroad.

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