May 13, 2011

MSF Calls for Respect for Humanitarian Medical Activities

Sanaa/Paris, May 12, 2011 – Amidst heavy clashes yesterday in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) ambulance being used to transport patients to surgical facilities throughout the day was struck by a stray bullet.

Clashes between pro-government forces and demonstrators led to intense fighting near Kuwait Hospital, as protestors attempted to march to the former prime minister’s office. Throughout the afternoon MSF ambulances referred close to 30 severely wounded people in need of surgical care from the scene of the clashes to hospitals and private clinics. The vast majority of patients suffered gunshot wounds. At least one of those people died.

At around 10:30 PM, as one of the MSF ambulances approached the conflict zone, the vehicle was hit by a stray bullet. There were no casualties among medical staff on board.

“The bullet entered through the back window,” said Dr. Vipul Chowdhary, MSF’s representative in Yemen. “Luckily, no patients were inside the vehicle at the time and the driver and nurse who were inside were not harmed. MSF reminds all parties of the absolute need to respect humanitarian medical work and staff in Sanaa and the rest of the country.”

Yesterday, MSF teams visited medical facilities in Sanaa, including public hospitals, private clinics, and health centers set up by demonstrators in order to assess needs and provide medical support. MSF continues to support a private clinic with donations of medical materials and drugs. Fourteen severely wounded people underwent surgery in the clinic yesterday.

Since the beginning of unrest, MSF teams have been intervening in Sanaa, Taiz, and Aden to help medical facilities cope with the influx of wounded people. MSF is donating medical materials and drugs, providing training to Yemeni medical staff, and offering additional ambulances to refer severely wounded people to surgical facilities.

In Taiz, where heavy clashes have also occurred over recent days, MSF ambulances referred eight people with severe gunshot wounds between Sunday evening and Monday morning, among whom five died.

In addition, MSF continues to operate regular medical programs in Saada, Hajjah, Amran, Aden and Lahj governorates, as well as in the city of Sanaa.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders is a private international association, providing humanitarian medical relief in more than 65 countries around the world, including Ivory Coast, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, and Sudan. MSF does not accept funding from any government for its work in Yemen and relies solely on private donations.

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