An airstrike carried out by the Saudi-led military coalition intervening in Yemen has hit a clinic run by international medical organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in the south of the country, wounding nine people, including two MSF staff.
According to local sources, at 11:20 am on December 2, three airstrikes targeted a park in Taiz city’s Al Houban district, two kilometres from MSF’s clinic. The MSF team immediately evacuated the clinic and informed the Saudi-led coalition that their jet planes were mounting an attack nearby. The clinic itself came under attack. The wounded, two of them with critical injuries, were transferred to Al Qaidah and Al Resalah hospitals. MSF provides support to both hospitals for the treatment of war-wounded patients.
“I was in MSF’s mother-and-child hospital in Taiz, just one kilometre away from Al Houban clinic, when we heard the airstrikes,” said Nora Echaibi, MSF’s medical team leader in Taiz. “Everyone was scared. We evacuated the teams as soon as possible.”
Coordinates provided to coalition forces
MSF’s team in Taiz is currently supporting Yemeni medical staff in providing emergency treatment to people wounded in the airstrikes. At MSF’s tented clinic in Al Houban, staff provided urgent medical care to people displaced from their homes by the recent conflict. The Saudi-led coalition had been informed about the precise location and the activities carried out by MSF in Al Houban.
“The health structures’ GPS coordinates were regularly shared with the Saudi-led coalition, most recently on November 29, when we informed them about this specific activity in Al Houban,” said Jerome Alin, MSF’s head of mission in Yemen. “There is no way that the Saudi-led coalition could have been unaware of the presence of MSF activities in this location.”
MSF has been providing those hospitals in Taiz that are still functioning with emergency medications, surgical supplies and practical support since May 2015. An MSF team has been providing urgent medical care at its clinic in Al Houban for the past two months. Over the last two days, the team treated 480 patients in Al Houban.
“The bombing of civilians and hospitals is a violation of international humanitarian law,” said Alin. “Civilians seeking healthcare and medical facilities must be respected.” An MSF-supported hospital was also hit by airstrikes in Haydan district in Sa’ada Province last month, and was completely destroyed.
MSF teams are working in eight Yemeni governorates (Sana’a, Sa’ada, Aden, Taiz, Amran, Al Dhale, Ibb, and Hajja). Since the start of the current crisis in March 2015, MSF teams have treated more than 16,000 war-wounded patients. With the healthcare system barely functioning, MSF is also providing non-emergency health services.