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Yemen's No Fly Zone: Thousands of Yemenis are Stranded Abroad

Sana'a airport. Photo from yemenfox.net

Sana'a airport. Photograph from yemenfox.net

As Saudi air strikes have entered their sixth day in Yemen, thousands of Yemenis are stranded at airports around the world, with no hope of returning home any time soon. Yemen's airspace has become a restricted area, a no-fly zone.

This no-fly zone, affected thousands of Yemenis outside Yemen, who are currently unable to go back to Yemen, or even leave the premises of the airports they are in for all kinds of reasons. While some have expired visas, others are shackled by financial restrictions, leaving them stranded at airports.

On March 26, Saudi Arabia launched a military campaign against Yemen. Backed by its Gulf Arab allies, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan and Pakistan, Saudi Arabia started an airstrike operation, dubbed Decisive Storm, against Houthi fighters who took control of Yemen in January.

Yemeni activists using the hashtag #StrandedYemenis and its Arabic equivalent #يمنيون_عالقون started tweeting about this humanitarian problem facing thousands of Yemenis abroad to raise awareness.

Khaled al-Hammadi, the head of Freedom Foundation for Media Freedom Rights in Yemen tweeted: 

Ahmad Ja'dan also tweeted: 

A real tragedy for Yemenis abroad! Yhey can't go back to Yemen due to the No Fly Zone.  

Activists also urged neighboring countries to issue 72 hours visas for all the stranded Yemenis. Noon_Nosa tweeted:

We urge neighboring countries such as Saudi Arabia and Oman to issue 72 hours visas to facilitate the return of all the stranded Yemenis abroad. 

Noon Arabia, blogger and co-founder of Support Yemen, tweeted: 

Other than the expiring visa issue, stranded Yemenis have to face the uncalculated expenses they have to pay while waiting to go back to Yemen

 She also added: 

Yemenis are stranded in airports all over the world. Our airports are destroyed and closed, and now several countries started requiring an entry visa. We ask that those country facilitate their return 

Al Jazeera published a report showing testimonies of stranded Yemenis in Djibouti.

This crisis also affected citizens of different nationalities such as Indians and Pakistanis in Yemen unsuccessfully seeking evacuation in order to return to their countries. On Sunday, and after Saudi agreed to cease its air strikes for two hours, a Pakistani airplane managed to leave Yemen with 500 Pakistani passengers on board. 

A Pakistani family, evacuated from #Yemen, is greeted by relatives on their arrival in Jinnah Intl Airport in Karachi  - via @FatimaAli52

A Pakistani family, evacuated from #Yemen, is greeted by relatives on their arrival in Jinnah Intl Airport in Karachi – via @FatimaAli52

Watch this space for more updates on Yemen.

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