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MSF in Yemen, 2007
Field Staff: 44
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Since the reunification of its northern and southern parts in 1990, the Republic of Yemen has been exposed to political and social tensions and sporadic waves of violence. The Saada province in the north-west has been particularly affected by tensions between governmental and rebel forces since 2004. MSF began working in Yemen in September 2007, supporting health structures in the Saada province and assisting migrants and refugees in the Abyan and Shabwah governorates.
Supporting health infrastructures
In the first half of 2007, some 56,000 people fled their homes temporarily when violence once again erupted in Saada province. In September, following the signing of a ceasefire agreement, MSF began working in Haydan hospital to improve access to healthcare. It is the first time since the beginning of the fighting that an international relief organization other than the International Committee of the Red Cross has been authorized to work in the region. The team supports inpatient and outpatient services, antenatal and maternity units, and the emergency room of the hospital. On several occasions in November, MSF had to temporarily evacuate Haydan as fighting resumed, although activities were sustained by national staff. In 2008, activities at the hospital will be expanded to cover surgery.
MSF supports health structures in the Saada province and assists migrants and refugees in the Abyan and Shabwah governorates.
During the fighting of 2007, the hospital of Razeh, west of Haydan, which serves a population of 75,000, was looted and partially destroyed. MSF repaired it and in December resumed medical activities in the emergency room and in the inpatient, maternity, antenatal and family planning services.
The volatile security situation makes movement difficult in some areas so an MSF team goes six days a week to the town of Dhayan, home to 25,000 people in the rebel zone. On average, 120 consultations are carried out each day, mainly focused on children and women’s healthcare. MSF is also contributing to the rehabilitation of the hospital of Al Talh, close to Dhayan, which will reopen in April 2008 after seven years of closure.
Providing assistance to migrants and refugees
Every year, thousands of people risk their lives to cross the Gulf of Aden, the dangerous stretch of water between Yemen and Somalia. This treacherous journey is taken by Somalis fleeing fighting in their country and Ethiopians who cannot find employment back home for political reasons or due to the conflict in the Ogaden region. In 2007, although 28,000 people reached the southern coast of Yemen, some 650 died and the same number went missing. The death toll is probably much higher. Since September, MSF has been assisting refugees who have survived this risky voyage, providing medical and humanitarian assistance to over 3,000 refugees and migrants. The MSF mobile team offers survivors emergency medical treatment, food, water and relief items on arrival. MSF also provides counselling, as many migrants arrive exhausted and emotionally shattered. In 2008, MSF will continue to provide medical assistance to this population, notably at a new reception center opened recently by UNHCR in Ahwar.
MSF has worked in Yemen since 2007.