MSF hospital Yemen largely destroyed (Image tweeted by MSF)
Medecins Sans Frontier (MSF) tweeted that once again one of their health facilities had been targeted in an aerial bombing, this time in the northern province of Saada, Yemen. There were no deaths from the Saudi Arabia led coalition airstrike though MSF reported 2 staff suffered injuries due to flying debris. Natalie Roberts who was MSF’s emergency coordinator for the area last summer told the Guardian, “she had heard there were up to six airstrikes in 90 minutes on the hospital, the first at 10.30pm and the last at about midnight”. The centre was severely damaged which is a major blow to trauma services in the region as it is the only centre providing such care to a population of 200,000. A photograph released by MSF showed the building was clearly marked on the roof with a sign indicating it was a hospital and according to international rules of war, a functioning hospital should not be targeted. Middle East Eye reported the following from Miriam Czech, MSF project coordinator in Sa’ada,
“I was not able to go inside as we believed there were remaining bombs that have not been exploded but I can confirm that the facility is 99% destroyed. The emergency room was destroyed, the OPD, the IPD the lap and the maternity was destroyed. There was functioning OT but that was also destroyed.”
MSF point out the clearly marked sign indicating the building is a hospital
Gregory Johnson author of “The Last Refuge: Yemen, al-Qaeda, and America’s War in Arabia” stated, “very sad to hear about the MSF hospital being bombed by Saudi in Yemen – a war so few seem to care about. I hope the bombing of the Doctors without Borders hospital in Yemen wasn’t done with US intel. MSF country director Hassan Boucenine told Reuters,
“it could be a mistake, but the fact of the matter is it’s a war crime. There’s no reason to target a hospital. We provided [the coalition] with all of our GPS coordinates about two weeks ago,” he said.
Matthieu Aitkin, Schell Fellow at the Nation Institute said, “awful to hear that Saudis attacked an MSF clinic in Saada. When we visited in June, we found indiscriminate bombing. HRW had a comprehensive report on Saudi airstrikes, including use of cluster bombs. Calls them potential war crimes. (see “Links” section for 2 reports) In Yemen, I was told by humanitarian officials that they coordinated their movements with US officers embedded in Saudi command center. We stayed at MSF hospital in Saada in June. Only “safe” place in the city. Constant stream of civilian casualties “.
The latest attack comes only weeks after the MSF main hospital for Kunduz city and the region was bombed by the US viewed by many human rights activists as an alleged “war crime” see,
“Afghanistan: MSF release Kunduz hospital attack MSF factsheet”
Philip Luther, Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International condemned the attack calling for an “independent investigation into why hospitals and their patients are being targeted, rather than protected, as international humanitarian law requires”. He stated,
“the attack on Haydan Hospital appears to have been an unlawful attack causing harm to civilians and civilian objects. The consecutive airstrikes show deliberate targeting of the medical facility – this is another sad day for civilians.”
Luther also pointed out,
“according to the hospital’s director Dr Ali al-Mughli, the hospital is now completely destroyed with the exception of the storage rooms. He said that while the hospital often receives injured fighters, there was no military activity in the hospital at the time of the attack.”
Yemeni activists have raised concerns that the international community is ignoring airstrikes on civilians and only seems to have noticed now a hospital has been hit and that homes and a school have been targeted recently.
Hisham al-Omeisy, a Yemeni Political & Information Analyst based in Sana’a has the final word, he tweeted
Dr from Haidan Sa’ada: “Hospital destroyed was last in district & served 7 others..$%&*!..gotta go, airstrikes resumed.” Speechless!
“Yemen: Coalition Strikes on Residence Apparent War Crime
Need UN Inquiry Into Unlawful Attacks by Warring Parties”
“Targeting Saada: Unlawful Coalition Airstrikes on Saada City in Yemen”
“Kunduz hospital had complained of threats from Afghan Special Forces in July, a full and independent investigation into bombing is essential”
“Kunduz: “US history of bombing hospitals and Afghan Special Forces aggression supports MSF calls for an independent transparent inquiry”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.