Saudi and Yemeni authorities finally agreed to allow Russian aircraft into Yemen to help with evacuations from Sanaa.
The Russian evacuation flights took on board not only Russian citizens but other foreign nationals who wanted to leave Yemen.
Despite tensions between Canada and Russia over the Ukraine conflict, the federal government is confirming that an undisclosed number of Canadians have been taken out of Yemen, amid Russian state media reports that the Kremlin had helped them leave.
Russian news agency TASS reported Friday that two Russian planes brought 284 people from Yemen to Moscow on Thursday including Canadian and Polish citizens.
The fifth Russian plane from Yemen carrying 150 refugees from 12 countries has now landed in Moscow.
The people who chose to leave the war-torn region have described the horrors of bombing and also praised Russia for organizing the evacuations.
RT reports: Aboard the flight were citizens of Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, France, Germany, Yemen, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Iraq.
The people escaping the clashes between Shiite Houthi rebels and forces loyal to the ousted Yemeni President Hadi, supported by Saudi-led bombings, have pointed to the unbearable situation on the ground as the sole reason for leaving.
Uzbek resident Nurlus Salamov, who worked in Yemen as an anesthesiologist for seven years, told RT that it became impossible to work in the country. “We could not get any sleep for the past eight days. We are thankful to Russia and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin for organizing the evacuation from Yemen. Russia was the only country to offer the evacuation, no one else have done that,” he said.
Florence Bureau, a French citizen, also found the constant nighttime air raids impossible to bear. Russia was the first country to arrange evacuation for them, she added.
Russian citizen Gulnara Tama stated she was forced to evacuate because she was scared for her children in light of surprise airstrikes. “The worst thing is that you don’t know what the future holds for your kids because they are not receiving any education. Children are stuck at home in fear,” she said.
The last straw for Gulnara was when she lost hope for peace. “The whole city [Sanaa] shook from all sides. That is what made me leave.”
Ukrainian citizen Irina Aldahri, originally from the Dnepropetrovsk region in eastern Ukraine, said that she had lived in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, for 30 years and had been forced to leave her life behind.
“The airstrikes are very scary to live through that is why [my son and I] decided to leave. Twelve days ago everything quickly deteriorated – daily bombings, all the work stopped. We were sitting at home, too afraid to go outside,” she said.
Aldahri added that her mother was visiting her in Sanaa when things began to fall apart. Her mother is already in Moscow, after she was able to take a previous Russian evacuation flight out of Yemen. Their plan is to meet up in Moscow and then travel back to Ukraine.
Another Russian citizen, Tatiana, said she had worked in Yemen for 10 years as a gynecologist and at first did not want to leave the country.
She described the situation as “tense,” with “Saudi planes bombing the military warehouses used by the Houthis.”
“I didn’t want to leave because once the morning came, everything would calm down and the stores would reopen,” she said.
But, the airstrikes hitting near the military hospital she worked at was what pushed her over the edge. “The bombings happened right next to it. The windows and doors shook, glass flew. After that I decided to leave.”