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Yemen: Latest MSF Updates

MSF Projects in Yemen (March 2016)

Crisis Update: March 3, 2016

In Yemen, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has a total of 2,102 staff working in the country: 97 international staff and 2,005 Yemeni staff. Currently, MSF is working in Aden, Al-Dhale’, Taiz, Saada, Amran, Hajjah, Ibb, and Sana’a, managing and providing urgent support to 29 hospitals and health centers.

Since March 2015, MSF has sent approximately 860 tons of medical supplies to Yemen. Teams have treated upwards of 108,000 patients in the emergency room (ER), including more than 31,000 war wounded. MSF has also provided free medical consultations to almost 38,000 displaced people, carried out nearly 11,000 surgeries, and assisted more than 8,000 births

The conflict in Yemen currently has the country divided between the Houthi movement, supported by former president Saleh, which controls the north of the country (including the capital Sana’a) and continues its southward advance, and an anti-Houthi coalition based mainly in the South. President Hadi of the transitional government fled to Saudi Arabia in March.

A coalition of mainly Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia started airstrikes against the Houthi on March 26, with the declared aim of stopping the advance of the Houthi and to reinstate President Hadi. The Houthi are seen by Saudi Arabia as a proxy group for Iran. Other countries participating in this Saudi-led coalition against the Houthi are Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Sudan. Other countries, including the USA, are providing logistics and intelligence support.

While the political struggle unfolds, civilians are caught in the crossfire. MSF is responding to the needs of civilians affected by violence. It remains extremely difficult to move within the country to evaluate needs and provide assistance, due to the fighting and the airstrikes.

Access to Healthcare 

On January 10th, 2016, the MSF-supported Shiara hospital in Razeh, northern Yemen, was hit by a projectile, killing six and injuring seven. This is the third medical facility run by MSF to be partially or completely destroyed in the past three months. On December 2nd, the MSF tented clinic in Houban, Taiz governorate was bombed by the Saudi-led coalition, killing one person and injuring eight others. The MSF facility in Haydan, Saada governorate was bombed on Oct. 26th. This hospital was the only remaining operational facility in the district, covering a population of nearly 20,000 people.

In mid-January 2016, MSF teams gained access to the besieged enclave of Taiz, delivering 15 tonnes of essential medical supplies – the first such delivery since August 2015.

Large civilian populations also remain in towns in Saada and north Amran governorates, near the Saudi border. Many health facilities have been damaged or destroyed, medical staff have fled, and transport is extremely challenging due to high fuel prices and insecurity on the roads.

The MSF Emergency surgical hospital in Aden is still treating victims of violence, including war wounded referred from the frontline north of Aden, and patients wounded during clashes among armed groups or violent crimes.

A fuel blockade is still crippling the country. Fuel is readily available on the black market, but at up to fives times the regular price. It is extremely difficult for the general population to move anywhere, food and water costs continue to increase, and hospitals have inadequate provisions of diesel to keep generators running. Sana’a remains without city power, and populations not living in direct proximity to health structures do not have the means to access healthcare. 


Aden is currently dominated by Southern Resistance Forces, backed by the Saudi-led coalition. The situation is volatile. MSF runs an emergency trauma center in Sheikh Othman District, in the north of the city. The 74-bed hospital has an emergency room, inpatient department, two operating theaters, and an intensive care unit.

Since December, 2015, MSF also has been supporting Ibn Khaldoun Hospital in Lahj with regular donations of medical supplies.

In 2015, MSF performed more than 5,148 surgical interventions. Between March and December, 2015, MSF received 7,074 war wounded of whom 438 were women, 419 were children under 12 years old, and 624 were children between the ages of 12 and 18 years. MSF is also providing mental health care and physiotherapy in the hospital. 



The situation in North Amran governorate is relatively calm. As a result there has been a recent influx of people fleeing from other parts of the country. Assistance is being provided to Internally Displaced People (IDPs) through mobile clinic consultations, distributions of household kits and water, and sanitation activities in Khamir and Huth districts.

In the Al-Salam hospital (MoH), MSF is actively supporting lifesaving health care services for patients in various departments. MSF is also supporting the Huth Health Center with medication, oxygen, logistic equipment, human resources support, electricity, and a referral system.

From January 1 to the end of November, 2015, MSF received 34,649 patients in the emergency rooms, of which over 1,017 were war wounded; performed 2,750 surgeries and 2,575 deliveries; admitted more than 3,224 adult patients to the IPD and 2,497 children to the pediatric ward and neonatal unit; and provided more than 5,505 ante-natal and post-natal consultations, More than 450 children with severe acute malnutrition were admitted and treated in Al-Salam hospital. 

In 2015 MSF built a network of advanced medical posts in northern Amran and Sa’ada governorates, setting up emergency rooms in local health centers, providing medical supplies and training in emergency care and the management of mass casualties, repairing and improving damaged structures, and running ambulance systems to surgical hospitals in Khamer and Sa’ada city. In July, MSF set up a reference system from three peripheral health centers in northern Amran Governorate. MSF is supporting the emergency rooms in Harf Sufyan, Al Ashah, and Al Qaflah health centers. 


Though the security situation in Hajjah city has been relatively calm, war wounded people continue to arrive at the MSF-supported Al-Jamoorhi Hospital from the front line.

Between August and November, 2015, a total of 3772 patients arrived into the ER, including 1991 trauma patients, 1003 medical patients, 428 pediatric patients, and 572 war wounded.

In the Abs district, MSF supplied drinking water to 16,000 IDPs, installing bladders and regularly supplying water to meet minimum humanitarian standards. MSF teams also provide basic medical care to people in the camps through a system of mobile clinics. In 2015 teams treated 5,523 patients at mobile clinics and health centers in the area. Mid-upper-arm circumference screenings performed in these IDP sites in July and August of 2015, showed an alarming increase in emergency rates of malnutrition, MSF continues to monitor the situation. 

In Abs Hospital MSF supports all services except the outpatient department (OPD). The teams have received many people wounded in intense shelling and fighting in various parts of the governorate. MSF has increased maternity services and pediatric care is provided to children under 15.


In Al Dhale governorate, MSF supports health facilities in Al Dhale, Qataba, and Al Azarik, in south-west Yemen. In January alone, a total of 5,000 outpatient and emergency room consultations were carried out by the teams in Al Dhale.

In the Jalal Health Health Center, Al-Azarik, MSF supports the emergency room, ante-natal care, post-natal care, family planning, normal deliveries, routine vaccination, nutrition, and referrals to Al-Nasser Hospital.

In Qataba, MSF supports the 24/7 emergency room, observation room, laboratory, and health care waste management in the MoH Al-Salam Hospital. In the last few months of 2015, MSF expanded its activities by supporting the outpatient department, nutrition, and ante-natal care. 

In 2015, MSF projects in Al-Dhale’ have received 55,917 patients in the emergency room, with more than 2,319 war-wounded people among them.


As intense fighting and bombing continues in Saada governorate, the MSF-supported Al Jumhori hospital, in Saada city, is receiving increasing numbers of war-affected patients. In response, the teams have increased the hospital´s bed capacity. Teams responded to two separate mass casualty situations at the end of January, following a series of airstrikes. A total of 57 wounded patients were brought to the hospital, including an ambulance driver working with MSF.

Teams are now assisting in more than 100 deliveries per week.

The MSF-supported Shiara Medical Centre, Razeh district, was hit with a projectile on January 10 2016. Six people were killed and seven injured. The medical center was previously attacked in September, 2015. The facility is open and operational at present. MSF is providing assistance in the emergency room and the maternity department, and organizes referrals to Al-Jumhori reference hospital in Saada city.

A distribution providing essential household items (soap, blankets, cooking utensils, for example) was carried out in early February to 340 families in the remote district of Kitaf, which boarders Saudi Arabia. Medical kits have also been donated to two health centers in the area. IDPs in Kitaf are living in very precarious conditions, with some families living in caves.

The Haydan Health Centre, which was struck in an airstrike on October 26 2015, has resumed minimal activities. MSF repaired part of the structure and re-opened an emergency room in late December. 


On January 16, after five months of intense negotiations, MSF was able to deliver two trucks full of essential medical supplies into the besieged area of the city of Taiz. Checkpoints and intense fighting hampered humanitarian aid from reaching the enclave, and between August 2015 and January 2016, hospitals in the area were unable to receive medical supplies. The severe shortage of supplies caused all wound care and surgery to be stopped on a number of occasions. As of mid-January 2016, the MSF team in Taiz has treated had more than 5,300 war-wounded people.

In November MSF opened a new hospital in Taiz to provide Mother and Child Healthcare services. The hospital opened on November 7 and provides ante-natal and post-natal care, family planning, and has an emergency room, ambulatory therapeutic feeding center (ATFC), and outpatient department for children under 10 years. By the end of January 2016, the teams have carried out 8,198 consultations and assisted in 146 deliveries. 

In 2015, MSF has been providing emergency medications and surgical supplies to Al-Jumhori, Al-Thawra, Al-Rawdah, Military, and Al-Qa’idah hospitals, which have been receiving people affected by violence in the recent and ongoing conflict. During this period, MSF set up and equipped three extra ERs at Al-Rawdah Hospital to allow extra space for handling mass casualties while continuing to support the hospital’s ER with supplies and staffing. 


In February, MSF took over the management of the Emergency Room in Al Thawara Referral Hospital, and has since treated between 600 and 800 patients per week. Fifteen to 20 percent of patients are admitted due to violent trauma related injuries.

In 2015, MSF donated medical and surgical materials to Al-Thawra and Al-Qa’idah Hospitals in Ibb Governorate, and also donated food supplies to centralized kitchens of IDPs who were based in eight schools housing 179 families, in Al-Qa’idah City. 


After recent airstrikes in and around Sana'a, MSF continues to focus its support on the main hospitals in Sana’a, Al Jumhori, and Al-Thawra Hospitals, which are receiving the majority of people wounded in airstrikes as well as those referred from peripheral hospitals. Recently MSF donated 60 dressing kits to the two hospitals.

MSF also directly supports the ER of the University Hospital in Al Koweit, and will plans to extend its support to the surgical wards. The hospital's proximity to the front line has resulted in an increasing numbers of war-wounded patients.

MSF continues to provide support to the Ministry of Health´s HIV program in Sana'a. Despite presence of tension and violence in the city, 97 percent of the 1,300 patients enrolled in the program have continued to receive life-saving anti-retroviral treatment.

In 2015, MSF held first-aid and mass-casualty trainings for more than 130 health staff working in local hospitals in Sana’a.

Mental Health Activities

In November, MSF began mental health activities in Abs, Saada, and Al Jamhoory Hospital in Sanaa. Two hundred and five people have attended individual counselling sessions, and 2,610 people participated in the psychological and social educational group sessions.

HIV Project

MSF has run a project to provide support to HIV positive patients in several locations across Yemen since 2010. In March 2015, the project launched a contingency plan to provide antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, services, and psychological support to patients in the whole country. By the end of August, 1,327 HIV patients have received ARVs, 775 patients received drugs for opportunistic infections, 650 patients received laboratory reagents, and 300 patients received mental health support. 


Our Work

This is an excerpt from MSF's 2014 International Activity Report:

High levels of poverty and unemployment combined with continuous insecurity make it difficult for Yemenis to access health care.

Basic health care and lifesaving surgical care is provided by MSF in Al Azaraq and Qataba’a districts of Ad Dhale governorate. More than 47,000 outpatient consultations took place in 2014. Emergency surgery for victims of violence is available in Al Naser General Hospital, Ad Dhale city. The team performed around 300 surgical procedures here between June and September, when they were evacuated because of insecurity.


MSF teams in Amran continued to support Al-Salam Hospital, providing emergency, maternity, inpatient and outpatient services, and assisting in the laboratory and blood bank. More than 2,300 surgical interventions and 25,300 emergency consultations were carried out, 5,200 patients were admitted to the hospital, and over 2,500 babies were delivered during the year. To assist the communities in the remote Osman and Akhraf valleys, MSF supported the reopening of Heithah health unit in April, but insecurity caused the suspension and then complete cessation of activity in November.

Rapid Emergency Response

MSF set up a team to provide rapid medical aid following violence and other emergencies. Medical supplies were donated to clinics and hospitals, relief items were distributed to people forced to leave their homes by conflict, and direct care was offered to victims of violence and the displaced. Medical items were donated to 38 health facilities in five governorates, including the capital Sana’a, and hundreds of displaced people received direct emergency support.

Reducing HIV Stigma

Lack of knowledge about HIV/AIDS among health care providers has been the main cause of stigma and discrimination in Yemen. MSF trained staff in seven hospitals as part of its work with the National AIDS Programme and its advocacy resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of people getting tested for HIV, including pregnant women, and in the number of HIV-positive patients admitted to Al Gumhuri Hospital in Sana’a.

MSF closed the mental health program for migrants in detention that had opened in 2013. The number of new arrivals had stabilized, and there were organizations ready to take over running the project.

At the end of 2014, MSF had 562 staff in Yemen. MSF has worked in the country since 1994.

Patient Story

Mohamed, from Shabwah

My nephew was shot during gunfire in Shabwah. There was no hospital … nothing in the area. The only place we could bring him was here [MSF hospital in Aden]. We sincerely thank MSF for the unconditional medical care they offered to him and to everybody in this hospital.

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