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A Large-Scale Humanitarian Emergency

Medical Figures, March 2015-December 2017

Patients treated for intentional physical violence, including war wounds, in MSF facilities 72,291
Emergency room patients received in MSF and MSF-supported facilities 718,802
Surgical interventions performed by MSF 54,313
Children admitted to pediatric wards (excluding violence-related cases) 23,411
Deliveries 43,890
General consultations for internally displaced people 205,240
Malaria cases treated 10,291
Malnutrition cases treated 9,515
Patients admitted to MSF cholera treatment centers 107,966

The escalating fighting in Yemen has created a large-scale humanitarian emergency, with the war and blockade by the Saudi-led coalition taking a heavy toll on civilians. The collapse of the health system and the deterioration of living conditions have had a devastating effect on the population.

The blockade, which began in 2015 and was strengthened in December 2017, is still affecting imports of commercial goods and some humanitarian aid. It has restricted access to food, water, and health care for Yemenis—and put more pressure on the dire economic situation in the country. Limiting imports to "emergency and relief" items, as designated by the Saudi-led coalition, is not enough to meet the growing needs of the Yemeni population. To prevent further suffering, MSF insists on the need for a wider reopening of sea ports and airports for commercial goods.

MSF also faces growing administrative impediments to its work in Yemen. Over the past six months, the administrative procedures for visas, travel authorizations, and supply imports to Yemen have increased considerably. The rules required by different authorities change frequently and hamper MSF’s capacity to deliver aid.

An Urgent Need for Humanitarian Assistance

MSF and the limited number of other aid organizations on the ground in Yemen can’t respond to the massive needs alone. The collapse of the health system will continue without adequate and immediate support, and could lead to a resurgence of cholera, the spread of other epidemics such as diphtheria and measles, growing rates of malnutrition, and further difficulties in treating non-communicable diseases. The non-payment of civil servants’ salaries by the government since August 2016 also remains a key issue, especially in the health sector. Health facilities lack qualified staff who often seek other income opportunities.

Disproportionate Suffering

Civilians, medical personnel, and health structures have been particularly affected by the fighting in Yemen. MSF hospitals have been hit several times. Many health personnel don’t dare to work in hospitals; patients don't dare to come as they think hospitals are a target. All parties to the conflict must work to reduce the disproportionate suffering of non-combatants in Yemen, particularly by respecting international humanitarian law, ensuring the protection of civilians and medical structures and personnel, and allowing the wounded and sick unhindered access to health care.

International aid actors, donor governments, and all parties to the conflict must ensure that aid is delivered to those in need.

This information is excerpted from MSF’s 2016 International Activity Report.

Yemen’s full-scale war, raging since March 2015, has inflicted immense costs on the population. Medical services were in a critical state as hundreds of health facilities across the country stopped functioning due to airstrikes, shelling, lack of supplies, or inadequate funding or staff. MSF scaled up its activities, directly providing health care to patients in 12 hospitals and supporting at least 18 other health facilities.

In 2016, more than 32,900 patients in facilities operated or supported by MSF received treatment for intentional physical violence, including war wounds—and nearly half of them were treated by MSF teams. MSF’s program in Yemen was one of its largest worldwide in terms of personnel.

Between October 2015 and August 2016, MSF lost 26 colleagues and patients in four separate bombings of health facilities it ran or supported. Following the airstrike on Abs hospital on August 15 that killed 19 people, including an MSF staff member, MSF temporarily withdrew its staff from six hospitals in the north of Yemen while continuing to support the facilities. MSF ran the emergency room, inpatient department, pediatric ward, and maternity departments at Abs hospital, and opened an inpatient therapeutic feeding center in December. MSF conducted medical outreach activities for people living in and around camps for the internally displaced in Abs district. MSF also provided lifesaving health care in Al Jumhouri hospital in Hajjah town.

In Sa’ada governorate, MSF provided assistance in the emergency room and maternity department of Shihara hospital, which was hit by a missile in January 2016. Haydan health center was hit by an airstrike in October 2015, nevertheless MSF continued to work there until August 2016. MSF teams worked in the maternity, surgical, and inpatient departments, and provided mental health care and physiotherapy in Al Jumhouri hospital in Sa’ada.

In Amran governorate, MSF helped provide health care and ran referral systems in Al-Salam hospital and four health centers. In May, MSF conducted a scabies treatment campaign at camps for internally displaced people.

MSF supported the emergency room and operating theater in Al-Kuwait hospital in Sana'a and donated emergency supplies to Al Jumhouri, Al-Thawra and Al-Sabeen hospitals.

MSF continued to support the Ministry of Health's HIV program, helping to ensure that, despite the violence, 97 per cent of the program’s 2,529 patients received their lifesaving antiretroviral treatment.

In Ibb governorate, the most densely populated region of Yemen, MSF supported the emergency department of Al-Thawra Hospital. MSF rehabilitated the General Rural Hospital of Thi As-Sufal district, close to the front lines, and performed lifesaving surgeries on severe medical cases.

​The situation was critical in Taiz as most hospitals were forced to close amid heavy fighting. Movement in and out of the city was restricted and dangerous for civilians and humanitarian workers. MSF provided lifesaving medical activities on both sides of the front line, treating patients with injuries resulting from airstrikes, blasts, shelling, gunshots and landmines. Teams continued to run a mother and child hospital and a trauma center, and regularly supported four other hospitals in the city.

In Ad Dhale, where fighting flared in August, MSF worked in Al-Nasr Hospital, Al Salam hospital, Thee Ijlal health center, and Damt health center.

MSF continued to run its emergency surgical hospital in Aden, providing lifesaving health care to thousands of people. MSF medical staff also provided primary health care services to inmates at Aden central prison.


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