According to media reports, loud explosions and gunfire were heard at the airport and clouds of smoke were seen shortly after a plane from Saudi Arabia landed, carrying members of the country’s new government. The passengers are reported to have been safely transferred to the presidential palace.
“I strongly condemn the attack at Aden airport upon the Cabinet’s arrival and the killing and injury of many innocent civilians”, said Mr. Griffiths in Wednesday’s statement, offering his sincere condolences and solidarity to all who lost loved ones.
“I wish the Cabinet strength in facing the difficult tasks ahead”, continued the statement. “This unacceptable act of violence is a tragic reminder of the importance of bringing Yemen urgently back on the path towards peace.”
A people caught in the crossfire
Yemen, the Arab world’s most impoverished nation, has been riven by conflict since 2015, when fighting erupted between a Saudi-backed coalition supporting the internationally-recognized Government and the Houthi rebel group known formally as Ansar Allah.
Figures released by the UN humanitarian office, OCHA, in early December, suggest that more than 230,000 Yemenis have died due to the war, the majority – some 131,000 – through indirect causes such as lack of food, health services and infrastructure. Over 3,000 children have been killed, and 1,500 civilian casualties have been reported in the first nine months of this year.
The attack on Aden airport is an ominous sign of the scale of challenges facing the Yemeni authorities, which have been forced to work mainly in exile, from Saudi Arabia.
It comes after a period of relative calm, and months of negotiations aimed at bringing about a peace deal, mediated by the Office of the Special Envoy.