SANA’A, YEMEN, JANUARY 10, 2016 – A hospital in northern Yemen supported by the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was hit by a projectile this morning, killing four people, wounding 10 and causing the collapse of several buildings of the medical facility.
Three of the injured are MSF staff members, two of whom are in critical condition.
According to MSF staff members on the ground, at 9:20 a.m. one projectile struck the Shiara Hospital in Razeh district, where MSF has been working since November 2015. MSF cannot confirm the origin of the attack, but planes were seen flying over the facility at the time. At least one more projectile fell near the hospital.
The number of casualties could rise as there could still be people trapped in the rubble. All staff and patients have evacuated and patients are being transferred to Al Goumoury hospital in Saada, also supported by MSF.
“All warring parties, including the Saudi-led coalition, are regularly informed of the GPS coordinates of the medical sites where MSF works, and we are in constant dialogue with them to ensure that they understand the severity of the humanitarian consequences of the conflict and the need to respect the provision of medical services,” said Raquel Ayora, MSF director of operations.
“There is no way that anyone with the capacity to carry out an airstrike or launch a rocket would not have known that the Shiara Hospital was a functioning health facility providing critical services and supported by MSF. We reiterate to all parties to the conflict that patients and medical facilities must be respected and that bombing hospitals is a violation of international humanitarian law.”
The conflict is particularly acute in Razeh district. The population of the area has been severely affected by constant bombings and the cumulative weight of 10 months of war. Shiara Hospital had already been bombed before MSF started supporting it, and services were reduced to stabilization, emergency, maternity and lifesaving activities.
This is the third severe incident in an MSF health facility in Yemen in the last three months. On October 27, Haydan hospital was destroyed by an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition (SLC) and on December 3 a health center in Taiz was also hit by the SLC, wounding nine people. MSF teams struggle on a daily basis to ensure respect for health facilities by all armed groups.
“We strongly condemn this incident that confirms a worrying pattern of attacks on essential medical services and express our strongest outrage, as this will leave a very fragile population without health care for weeks,” said Ayora. “Once more it is civilians who bear the brunt of this war.”
MSF asks for an immediate end to attacks on medical structures and requests that all parties unequivocally commit to creating the conditions for the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance. MSF also requests that those responsible for this attack investigate the circumstances of the incident.
In Yemen, MSF is working in Aden, Al-Dhale’, Taiz, Saada, Amran, Hajjah, Ibb and Sana’a governorates. Since the start of the current crisis in March 2015, MSF teams have treated more than 20,000 war-wounded patients. More than 790 tons of medical supplies have been sent by MSF so far. MSF is managing 11 hospitals and health centers and supports 18 health centers. With the health care system barely functioning, MSF is also providing non-emergency health services.
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”.