As the Saudi led coalition continued their airstrikes, two more Russian planes evacuated 200 refugees from Yemen on Wednesday night, including 2o American citizens.
The two Il-62s carried evacuated citizens of Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Cuba, along with the American citizens, who became stranded in Yemen when the US government announced it had no plans to organize an evacuation.
So far Moscow has dispatched nine flights to evacuate people from Yemen and have managed to rescue 1,200 citizens from 20 countries.
RT reports: “There are no plans for a US government-coordinated evacuation of US citizens at this time,” US State Department said in a travel warning in early April, as the Saudi bombing campaign passed its first week.
“We encourage all US citizens to shelter in a secure location until they are able to depart safely. US citizens wishing to depart should do so via commercial transportation options when they become available.”
Department spokesman Jeff Rathke explained that the people trapped in Yemeni violence were there because they had ignored US government’s warnings.
“For more than 15 years the State Department has been advising US citizens to defer travel to Yemen. We have been advising those US citizens who are in Yemen to depart,” he said.
Left to their own devices, US citizens in Yemen sought the help of private organizations and foreign governments to flee the country. RT’s Murad Gazdiev spoke with some of those who found their way out of the battle zone to the Russian evacuation planes. Some barely managed to reach the airport.
“My cousin contacted us from the US. He got hold of the Russians and then contacted us. We only heard about it yesterday. We went from the village. It’s a five-hour ride. We crossed that bridge. Twenty minutes later a missile hit the bridge we crossed,” Mouhammed Nasser told RT.
Others spent a lot of time desperately trying to find a way out of Yemen.
“I couldn’t make it out. I had to wait. It took me weeks to find a flight out of [the capital] Sanaa. I started calling airlines, agencies, the UN, the Russian embassy,” said Ismail Alafash.
“Americans, they just kept sending us emails,” he added. “They said basically: find your way out.”
Some were leaving their loved ones behind in Yemen, hoping they would be able to bring them out somehow.
“I have to think about the next step, to make sure that my family is safe. This is a priority for me. I will try my best to get them out of Yemen. And if we could we’ll start a new life somewhere else until settle down and we go back to Yemen,” Houda Al-Hazzan told RT.
The planes’ first stop was Djibouti, a tiny African country just across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen that also happens to host the biggest US military base in Africa. Some of the American passengers departed here, while others continued on to Russia along with the other evacuees.