September 10, 2009

MSF has been providing emergency care to war-wounded since fighting resumed recently in Saada Province, in northwestern Yemen. Four weeks ago renewed fighting began between the Yemeni army and the Al Houthi rebels in Saada Province. Violent clashes have been frequent, mostly around Saada City, along the Saada-Baqim road, and farther west around Haydan and Malaheed.

Yemen 2009 © Arnaud Drouart / MSF

MSF staff treat patients at Al Tahl hospital in the north of the country.

Yemen 2009 © Arnaud Drouart/MSF

MSF anesthesiologist Arnaud Drouart treats a child at Al Tahl hospital.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been providing emergency care to war-wounded since fighting resumed recently in Saada Province, in northwestern Yemen. Four weeks ago renewed fighting began between the Yemeni army and the Al Houthi rebels in Saada Province. Violent clashes have been frequent, mostly around Saada City, along the Saada-Baqim road, and farther west around Haydan and Malaheed.

Between August 11 and September 2, MSF staff performed 515 emergency consultations in Al Tahl hospital. Surgical team carried out approximately 120 interventions, two thirds of which were for war-related injuries.

“When hostilities broke out again in Al Tahl city, we saw a huge influx of wounded,” explains Arnaud Drouart, an MSF anesthesiologist at Al Tahl hospital. “Pick-ups would arrive carrying three or four wounded. On the first day of fighting, two or three pick-ups like this arrived.”

MSF is the only international medical association that has been able to continue working in the area since the renewed outbreak of hostilities. Through its activities in Razeh and Al Tahl hospitals, MSF is doing everything to remain as close as possible to the population while ensuring the security of patients and medical teams.

Yemen 2009 © Arnaud Drouart / MSF

A bullet or piece of shrapnel struck the window of a vehicle near Al Tahl hospital.

Some of MSF’s international staff in the region have had to be evacuated, and travel within the area has been severely restricted. Although the hospital was never targeted, MSF's ability to provide care was sometimes affected. "When fighting is close there can always be mistakes, stray bullets," explains Drouart. "We had the case of a stray bullet or a piece of shrapnel, we don’t know which, that burst threw a tent and injured a member of staff. Two or three times, we had to postpone surgical operations, because we couldn’t risk going to collect the patients waiting in the tents. We would stay together in the operating theater for half an hour or an hour, waiting for the fighting nearby to stop so that we could transfer the patient to the recovery room.”

Because travel is restricted, MSF teams have not been able to carry out a detailed evaluation of the consequences of the fighting or the population’s access to medical care.

Related News & Publications