The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Wednesday that some 148 foreign nationals have been evacuated from Yemen on an emergency flight from the capital San'aa.
The flight landed yesterday in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, with nearly 70 Ethiopian citizens on board, but also nationals from the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Germany, Bangladesh and Egypt.
This is the second emergency flight organized by the UN-partner agency, which safely delivered 143 foreigners to Sudan at the start of the week.
At least 16,000 foreign nationals are believed to need help getting out of the country, IOM says. Joel Millman, IOM spokesperson described the operation as a success despite the dangerous conditions on the ground in Sana’a.
Millman said that foreign nationals from "at least 17 countries" were on the latest flight which took off despite continuing air strikes in Yemen's capital city.
"There's a lot of violence, there's a lot of aerial bombardment. You know, the challenge isn't just about getting the flights in, but getting time and airspace clearance to get people out, after loading them on; it's not like taking cargo on with your forklift."
As fighting continues between forces loyal to ousted President Hadi and Houthi rebels, some 16,000 foreigners have reportedly contacted IOM requesting help to leave Yemen. But Millman said that number was likely to be larger now "because the calls never stop" from third country nationals.
According to Millman, only 5,000 people had the right paperwork to leave Yemen, while some foreign nationals had been turned away from the flight on medical grounds.
So far, 38 countries have requested IOM's help, which last week launched a $10 million appeal for funds (Source: UN News Centre/Radio)