SANAA/PARIS/NEW YORK—Airstrikes carried out late last night by the Saudi-led coalition in northern Yemen destroyed a hospital supported by the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), MSF announced today.
The small hospital, in the Haydan District in Saada Province, was hit by several airstrikes beginning at 10:30 p.m. last night. Hospital staff and two patients managed to escape before subsequent airstrikes occurred over a two-hour period. One staff member was slightly injured while escaping. With the hospital destroyed, at least 200,000 people now have no access to lifesaving medical care.
"This attack is another illustration of a complete disregard for civilians in Yemen, where bombings have become a daily routine," said Hassan Boucenine, MSF head of mission in Yemen.
The bombing of civilians and hospitals is a violation of international humanitarian law and MSF is demanding that coalition forces explain the circumstances around the attack in Haydan. The hospital’s GPS coordinates were regularly shared with the Saudi-led coalition, and the roof of the facility was clearly identified with the MSF logo.
"Even 12 hours after the airstrike, I could see the smoke coming out of the facility," said Miriam Czech, MSF project coordinator in Saada. "The inpatient department, the outpatient department, the maternity ward, the lab, and the emergency room are all destroyed. It was the only hospital still functional in Haydan area," she said.
MSF began supporting the hospital in May. Since then, roughly 3,400 patients were treated, with an average of 200 war-wounded patients admitted to the emergency room per month.
"Yemen is in an all-out war, in which the population caught on the wrong side is considered a legitimate target," said Boucenine. "Markets, schools, roads, bridges, trucks transporting food, displaced persons' camps, and health structures have been bombed and destroyed. And the first victims are civilians."
MSF’s priority is to reestablish a new health facility as soon as possible, in order to maintain the provision of health care to the population of Haydan.
MSF is an international medical organization that was founded in 1971. Today, MSF provides impartial and free-of-charge health services to those in need in more than 70 countries including Yemen. MSF works in eight Yemeni governorates (Sana’a, Saada, Aden, Taiz, Amran, Al-Dhale’, Ibb, and Hajja). Since the beginning of the crisis in Yemen in March 2015, MSF has treated more than 15,500 war-wounded patients and is still also providing non-emergency health services.