Arab coalition forces Red Cross plane to redirect and land after veering off course
The aircraft heading to Djibouti changed its direction after taking off from Yemen’s rebel-held capital Sanaa
The Arab coalition fighting in Yemen said that it was forced to redirect a Red Cross plane to land in southern Saudi Arabia after it veered off course towards a military operation area.
Coalition spokesman Col Turki Al Malki said that the aircraft heading to Djibouti changed its direction after taking off from Yemen’s rebel-held capital Sanaa.
"Coalition forces communicated with the aircraft on the international distress frequency ... but the crew did not respond," said Col Al Malki in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
"Commands were given to redirect the aircraft away from the operations zone but to no avail. The aircraft was forced to land in Jizan at 2.16pm“ in the south of the kingdom.
Col Al Malki reaffirmed that the decision was taken to “guarantee the safety of air space, crew and humanitarian staffers who were on board”.
The Saudi-led coalition, which includes the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, accused the crew of air space violation and of jeopardising the safety of four passengers onboard.
The alliance intervened in the Yemen war in March 2015 at the request of the internationally recognised government to restore its power and push back the rebels after they took over Sanaa.
The International Committee of the Red Cross later said the plane headed from Sanaa to Djibouti had made "an unscheduled stop" in Jizan "due to technical issues".
"The issue was resolved and the plane has landed in Djibouti this evening," it said in a statement, adding that the ICRC was "investigating".
The humanitarian agency last month pulled 71 of its international staffers from Yemen over rising security threats.
Those withdrawn from Yemen represent more than half of the ICRC's international staff in the country.
The ICRC said that the decision would lead to the "crippling" of its life-saving work in the war-ravaged country, which includes emergency medical work and food assistance.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the Houthis attacked a Saudi oil tanker in the Red Sea, causing slight damage, Saudi state television quoted the coalition as saying.
The statement followed an earlier claim by Houthi-run Al Masirah TV that the group had targeted a Saudi Arabian warship off the western coast of Yemen.
"The Saudi oil tanker was subjected to slight damage due to the attack by the Houthi militia," Saudi state media said.
The conflict between Iran-backed Houthi rebels and Yemen’s government, has claimed nearly 10,000 lives since 2015.
The impoverished country is on the brink of famine, triggering what the UN says is the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
Updated: July 25, 2018 03:35 PM