Crisis Update: April 8, 2015

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.

While the political struggle unfolds, civilians are caught in the crossfire. The WHO reports that in the past 2 weeks over 540 people have been killed and 2000 wounded, but we have no way of confirming this information, and don’t have any MSF figures for overall wounded. There is no clarity on the number of people displaced over the past 2 weeks. The UN states that 100,000 have been displaced since March 19.

MSF is responding to the needs of civilians affected by violence. There are currently 16 international and 539 Yemeni MSF staff on the ground. Since March 19, over 780 wounded have been treated by MSF. It remains extremely difficult to move within the country to evaluate needs and provide assistance, due to the fighting and the airstrikes. Our first  shipment of 1.7 tons of supplies arrived on April 8 and are now in the Aden hospital.

Haradh Town (Hajjah Governorate, Northern Yemen)

MSF supports the hospital in the town of Haradh. On March 30, nearby Al Mazraq Camp was hit by an airstrike. At least 34 people wounded in the attack were brought by ambulance to the MSF-supported hospital in Haradh. Twenty-nine people were dead on arrival, among them women and children.

Al Mazraq Camp was established in 2009, when thousands of people fled fighting between government troops and Houthi forces in Saada Governorate. Roughly 500 new families have arrived in the camp over the last two days after fleeing bombings in the western area of Saada.

Aden and the South

Clashes continue in the southern city of Aden where MSF is running its Emergency Surgical Unit.  There has been no electricity for 3 days, and it has become very hard to contact our staff as batteries are exhausted. The water supply has also been switched off in some highly populated areas.

Since March 19, MSF has received over 600 injured at the hospital. However, in recent days the number of patients received has reduced a lot, despite the clashes continuing and increasing in some areas. We received more than 550 injured between March 19 and March 31, while only 62 injured could make it to the hospital in the first five days of April.

This lack of access for the wounded to the hospital is caused by blockages to roads, movement being very risky, and ambulances having been attacked and hijacked. Seven Ministry of Health ambulances have gone missing. Two Yemeni Red Crescent volunteers were killed on April 3 while in an ambulance. Our staff are still finding difficulties going to and from the hospital, and we have some staff who have been living at the hospital.

MSF sent out a local communication on Friday to express concern over the lack of access for patients to the hospital and to call for respect for ambulances, health workers, and patients. We have also been using social media to ask for the respect of ambulances, health workers, and medical structures, so patients can access treatment.

On the night of April 7, there was heavy fighting around the hospital in Aden, and we started receiving the wounded this morning. There are no figures yet..

Sanaa

Airstrikes have continued both day and night. We are seeing queues at fuel stations, and also people starting to leave the city.  There are increasing reports of robberies, suggesting an increase in opportunistic crime.  Our teams are still on alert and monitoring needs. They are in touch with the Ministry of Health and hospitals in the city. We are providing supplies to Al Yumuri hospital, in Sana'a. The regular HIV project in Sana'a is still going on.

Amran Governorate

MSF runs all key services of the hospital in Khamer city and supports Huth health center. The situation remains relatively calm but people displaced by fighting have started to arrive in Huth. The MSF team in Khamer is on alert in case of the arrival of more displaced people in the city or nearby.

Ad Dhale Governorate

In Ad-Dhale, we had a couple of days of relative calm with little fighting , but April 6 saw renewed violence. We received 17 wounded and three dead in Al Nasser, and three wounded in Qataba. This brings it to a total of 148 wounded by violence treated so far.

While our ambulance service running referrals to Al Nasser and Qataba was suspended following two security incidents last week, it is now up and running again following the reconfirmation of security guarantees. However, referrals between Ad-Dhale and the hospital in Aden extremely difficult.

Khamer

In the town of Khamer, where MSF runs a hospital, the team is also assessing the situation after reports of IDP flows in the governorate, and is ready to respond. An MSF surgeon has arrived to support our work in the north. 

Why are we there?

  • Armed conflict
  • Displacement
  • Massive flow of migrants

Yemen: Latest MSF Updates

This is an excerpt from MSF-USA's 2013 Annual Report:

There was a significant deterioration in living conditions in parts of Yemen in 2013, and insecurity towards the end of the year affected availability and accessibility of healthcare.

Insecurity affected programs supported by MSF, further cutting people off from healthcare, and activities had to be suspended twice in Amran and once in Aden.

Over 150 Yemeni patients were sent from Yemen to MSF’s reconstructive surgery program in Amman, Jordan, which provides orthopedic, maxillofacial, and reconstructive plastic surgery.

Ad-Dali

MSF continued to work in Ad-Dali governorate, but problems with security caused significant disruptions to the provision of healthcare there at the end of the year. Food shortages and maternal and child health are of great concern in the area.

Teams worked with local communities, both rural and urban, providing care for victims of violence and trauma. Emergency services, including surgery, were available at the Al Naser general hospital, Ad-Dali city, and patients received basic healthcare and lifesaving surgery in Al Azaraq and Qataba’a districts. More than 41,704 consultations were carried out. 

Aden and the south

In Aden, more than 2,500 surgeries were performed and 860 patients received post-surgery follow-up and physiotherapy at MSF’s emergency surgical unit, which treated victims of violence from Aden as well as the nearby governorates of Lahj, Abyan, Shabwah, and Ad Dhale. A weekly clinic was run for inmates at Aden central prison, and 80 patients were seen each month.

Staff support and supplies were provided to hospitals in Lawdar and Jaar in Abyan governorate. Teams also trained emergency room staff and sterilization technicians.

Amran governorate

Access to healthcare decreases progressively in the rural areas of Amran governate and ceases to exist for communities in the valleys. At Al-Salam hospital, Khamir, MSF is involved in the emergency, surgery, maternity, pediatric, inpatient, and intensive care departments, and collaborates closely with the Ministry of Health to improve medical services. Support is also provided for the blood bank and laboratory. There was a dramatic rise in surgery patients towards the end of the year after violence intensified in the governorate. More than 1,940 surgical procedures were performed, and 4,080 people were admitted to hospital. Teams carried out 21,980 emergency consultations.

MSF resumed its support of the Huth health center in March, after six months’ suspension for security reasons. A team provided emergency, maternity, and inpatient care. In September, Huth became a stabilization center for managing large influxes of wounded people, providing emergency care and a referral system.

To assist the communities in remote areas with very limited access to healthcare, teams ran mobile clinics in the Osman and Akhraf valleys, carrying out 5,350 consultations and treating 427 patients for malaria. 

Caring for migrants in Sana'a

MSF began providing HIV care to people in Sana’a in 2013. A mental health program for migrants in detention also started in April.

Program handovers

In February, MSF handed over activities at the Radfan hospital, Lahj governorate, to the Ministry of Health. A program offering healthcare at Haradh, Hajjah governorate was closed in August. 

At the end of 2013, MSF had 459 staff in Yemen. MSF has worked in the country since 1986.

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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