A hospital supported by the international medical humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in northwestern Yemen was hit by an airstrike today, killing at least 11 people and injuring at least 19. The attack on Abs Hospital, in Yemen’s Hajjah governorate, occurred at 3:45 pm local time and immediately killed nine people, including an MSF staff member. Two more patients died while being transferred to Al Jamhouri hospital. Five patients remain hospitalised. The air strike was carried out by Arab coalition against Yemen’s Houthi rebels
The hospital, supported by MSF since July 2015, was partially destroyed, and all the remaining patients and staff have been evacuated. The GPS coordinates of the hospital were repeatedly shared with all parties to the conflict, including the Saudi-led coalition, and its location was well- known.
“This is the fourth attack against an MSF facility in less than 12 months,” said Teresa Sancristóval, MSF emergency program manager for Yemen. “Once again, today we witness the tragic consequences of the bombing of a hospital. Once again, a fully functional hospital full of patients and MSF national and international staff members was bombed in a war that has shown no respect for medical facilities or patients.”
“Even with a recent United Nations resolution calling for an end to attacks on medical facilities and with the high-level declarations of commitment to International Humanitarian Law, nothing seems to be done to make parties involved in the conflict in Yemen respect medical staff and patients,” Sancristóval continued. “Without action, these public gestures are meaningless for today’s victims. Either intentional or as a result of negligence, this is unacceptable.”
MSF calls on all parties, and particularly the Saudi-led coalition responsible for the attack, to guarantee that such attacks do not happen again.
Abs Hospital was the main medical facility functioning in the western part of Hajjah governorate. The facility has treated 4,611 patients since MSF began supporting the hospital in July 2015.
The hospital had a 14-bed emergency room, a maternity unit and a surgical unit. In the last weeks the hospital had seen an increase in wounded patients, mostly victims of recent clashes and the aerial campaign in the area.
At the time of the strike, there were 23 patients in the surgery ward, 25 in the maternity ward, 13 newborns and 12 patients in the pediatric ward. The hospital had admitted several war-wounded patients during the day. The number of patients in the emergency room is pending further clarification.
“People in Yemen continue to be killed and injured while seeking medical care,” Sancristóval said. “The violence in Yemen is having a disproportionate burden on civilians. We want to express our outrage at having to send condolences once more to the families of our staff member and 10 patients, who should have been safe inside a hospital.”
MSF is active in 11 hospitals and health centers in Yemen, and providing support to another 18 hospitals or health centers in eight governorates: Aden, Al-Dhale’, Taiz, Saada, Amran, Hajjah, Ibb and Sana’a. More than 2,000 MSF staff are currently working in Yemen, including 90 international staff.
(This story is based on the Press Release by MSF).