Dozens of wounded people have been treated by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) teams in different parts of Yemen due to airstrikes and ground shelling carried out last days in different parts of the country.
An MSF team treated over 67 injured persons in Beni Hassan, in northwestern Yemen, following a series of airstrikes targeting a busy marketplace after people broke Ramadan’s fast on the night of Saturday, July 4. An estimated 20 people were killed in the attack in the market, located at Harad district, and the MSF team recovered nine dead bodies among the debris the following day. An elderly injured man was also recovered and transferred to Beni Hassan health centre, where MSF has provided support since May 2015.
The attack at the market, called Aahem Triangle, started in the evening when a cooking- gas station was hit. Half an hour later, a second attack in the heart of the crowded market followed, hitting two restaurants and a hotel.
Medical teams quickly overwhelmed
The MSF team was called to Beni Hassan an hour later, when private cars and public transport vehicles were already taking dozens of injured people to the health centre. The team stabilized the wounded patients and referred three of them to the main hospitals of the region, al Jumhuri (Hajjah City) and al Olafi and al Thawara hospitals (Hodeida City). MSF donated war-wounded kits for 100 persons to al Jumhuri hospital, which received over 40 referrals in total, and also provided fuel and ambulances.
Medical teams were quickly overwhelmed by the number of wounded persons and the severity of their injuries. “It has been terrible. We could never have imagined that we could receive so many severely injured people at one time in a small health centre like Beni Hassan,” said one team member. “The whole team is shocked by what they have seen, especially since it happened to people enjoying an evening in Ramadan.”
“It is unacceptable that airstrikes take place in highly concentrated civilian areas where people are gathering and going about their daily lives, especially at a time such as Ramadan”, said Colette Gadenne, MSF’s head of mission in Yemen.
Since the onset of the conflict in Yemen, there have been several attacks with mass civilian casualties in the region — including many internally displaced persons (IDPs), who are already extremely vulnerable and live in precarious conditions.
Violence across the country
In southern Yemen today, MSF teams assisted 23 injured civilians due to an airstrike that took place in Alfayush market, in Lahj governorate. In the nearby city of Aden, more than 80 injured, including women and children, were treated by MSF staff on July 1 as a result of heavy shelling on a residential area in Al-Mansoora district. Ground shelling and clashes in Aden cause MSF teams to continuously receive wounded in the Emergency Surgical Hospital. In the last four months, more than 2,800 injured — including women and children — have been treated.
Yesterday in Amran governorate, in the east of the country, an MSF-supported hospital received seven injured, including three children under 13 years old due to airstrikes targeting Harf Sufian district.
Violence also hit Taiz governorate, in southwestern Yemen, where random shelling on the ground has caused injuries and death to several people, including women and children. Between July 2 and 5, the MSF supported Al-Rawdah hospital received 93 injured and 16 dead persons as a result of several residential areas being shelled. In only one day, on Saturday, the hospital received 18 injured people, including a one-year-old baby.
In Taiz, MSF supports hospitals treating wounded patients from both sides of the conflict with donations of dressing and surgical kits. Since March 2015, Al-Rawdah Hospital has received a total of 2,193 wounded people — including women and children — and 298 dead victims of violence. The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate to unacceptable levels, with families trapped behind the front lines and unable to obtain food commodities, fuel or cooking gas.
Besides attacks in civilian areas, medical infrastructures and staff have been intensively targeted, which has severely affected the capacity of the country’s healthcare structure to respond to in such a violent context. The hospital of Harad, one of the few fully operational hospitals in the area of Hajjah, was shelled in mid-June and has now been rendered non-operational. Before the Aahem marketplace attack last weekend, an MSF team visiting the site of the bombed hospital in Harad also found itself under fire and had to flee the town.