The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) are extremely concerned about the severe damage in Yemen caused by recent attacks on airports in Sana’a and Hodeida by a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia. The damage is obstructing the delivery of much-needed humanitarian assistance and movement of humanitarian personnel.
“Yemen depends almost completely on imports of food and medication especially for the treatment of chronic diseases,” says Cedric Schweizer, who heads a team of 250 ICRC staff in Yemen. “Sana’a airport was an essential civilian infrastructure, and the main lifeline to supply essential humanitarian goods and services. The harsh restrictions on importations imposed by the coalition for the past six weeks added to the extreme fuel shortages, have made the daily lives of Yemenis unbearable, and their suffering immense.”
The disruption of the key logistic infrastructure, including airports, seaports, bridges and roads are having alarming consequences on the civilian population, and the humanitarian situation has now become catastrophic. Checkpoints by different armed factions have obstructed the delivery of urgent medical supplies to hospitals and have prevented patients and wounded to access essential healthcare.
“The current conflict has already caused extreme hardship for the population across the country,” said Marie Elisabeth Ingres, who heads the MSF mission in Yemen. “The destruction of the Sana’a runway means that countless lives are now more at risk, and we can no longer afford to stand and watch as people are forced to drink unsafe water and see children die of preventable causes.”
MSF and ICRC demand that robust and unobstructed channels for the provision of humanitarian assistance are opened and respected by all parties to the conflict in this increasingly desperate situation. We call for an end to attacks on these vital lifelines and for the Yemeni civil aviation authority to be given the chance to repair the airports, so that humanitarian assistance can be sent to Yemen.
MSF Statement in Response to latest Yemen Offensive
May 8, 2015
The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today issued the following statement in response to the Saudi-led coalition’s stated plans to heavily bomb Yemen’s Sa’ada Province.
The statement is attributed to Llanos Ortiz, MSF medical coordinator in Yemen.
"The bombing of civilian targets, with or without warning, is a serious violation of international humanitarian law. It is even more serious to target a whole province.
"It is impossible for the population of the entire province of Sa’ada to leave within a few hours. Many people have neither vehicles nor fuel due to the coalition's blockade. Many others have no access to information as the phone networks are barely operational in the province.
"If the Coalition proceeds with the threat of bombing the province massively, many people will die under the bombs. We call on the coalition to avoid attacking civilian targets, especially hospitals and water distribution systems.
“There is also the risk of creating an exodus of thousands of people towards the mountains south of Sa’ada, where humanitarian aid will not reach them in time. Together with the blockade, all airports in the country have been destroyed by coalition air strikes, which could provoke an even greater humanitarian disaster than the one we are already facing.”
Together with a Yemeni ministry of health team, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is treating wounded people in Al Gumhury Hosptial in Saada, Yemen.