MSF Treats More Than 800 War-Wounded Patients in Yemen


APRIL 10, 2015—Since March 19, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams in Yemen have provided emergency treatment to more than 800 war-wounded people.

Others may be unable to seek aid due to the blockage of major access roads leading to medical facilities, attacks on Ministry of Health ambulances, and the killing of Red Crescent staff. Scores of injured people have been left lying in the street for hours because sniper fire and intense street fighting prevents responders from reaching them.

Response Centered in the South

More than 600 people have received treatment in the MSF hospital in the southern city of Aden, where Houthi forces, forces loyal to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, and groups supporting President Abed Rabbuh Mansur Hadi are involved in fighting. Aerial and naval bombing from a coalition of countries backing Hadi is compounding the dangers that people face, while pitched battles take place inside the city.

MSF staff members are responding to repeated mass casualty events in which as many as 100 injured people have arrived at the hospital simultaneously. The team in Aden has faced several waves of mass casualties over the last three weeks. However, while they received more than 550 injured patients between March 19 and March 31, fewer than 100 injured patients could make it to the hospital in the first week of April because of an escalation of violence.

Testimony from Nabeel Bassem, Pharmacist Assistant, Aden

April 15, 2015

When the clashes started on March 19, I was at the hospital. My house was just in front of where the clashes were taking place. I could only go home at 9:00 in the evening, and when I arrived at home my wife and two children were in a state of panic as they were all alone. The clashes were heavy. I was facing a dilemma and didn’t know what to do the next day. Should I stay with them or go to the hospital?

I was worried about them every time I went to the hospital. I didn’t want to leave them, but doing my job meant that I had to do.

We received many mass casualties. My presence was necessary all the time, as I had to provide the necessary materials from the pharmacy. Even though we are well prepared, the high number of injured meant that I had to run to the hospital pharmacy to bring more essential supplies for the doctors. We were working all day at the hospital, and when I would go home, it was not calm there either, as we would hear the sounds of gun shots.

One day, as I was going to my home—which I had recently rented nearby, so I was not well known to everyone in the neighborhood—I was stopped by some gunmen near my home and they pointed their guns at me. Then an old man recognized me and so they let me pass. After this incident I took my family to Abyan governorate, where my relatives live. I felt that they would be okay there, as there would be someone to take care of them. I was scared on the way back, but thankfully I arrived safely to Aden and I am now back at the hospital.

More than 150 people have also been treated in two MSF emergency projects in Ad Dhale Governorate, where MSF continues to run an ambulance service to transport wounded people across the front line. After a period of calm over the weekend, violence has again increased in the area.

Ad Dhale: Patients in Critical Condition Cannot Reach MSF Hospitals

Medical Support in the North

MSF is supporting the hospital in the town of Haradh, where 34 injured people were taken following an airstrike on Al Mazraq displacement camp on March 30. MSF has also successfully flown an additional surgeon to the capital, Sana’a, to join MSF’s project in the town of Khamer, in Amran Governorate, and strengthen surgical capacity in the north of the country. In Sana’a itself, MSF is providing supplies to the Al Jumhoori Hospital, where it continues its regular HIV project.

More Supplies and Staff Needed Urgently

With humanitarian needs escalating rapidly, MSF is working relentlessly to get more medical supplies and staff into Yemen. On April 8, one MSF boat successfully crossed from Djibouti to Aden with 1.7 tons of supplies to replenish stocks at the MSF Emergency Surgical Unit in Aden. A second boat, organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross, brought an additional MSF surgical team into the city. The team immediately started working upon arrival at the MSF hospital.

April 13: MSF Plane Carrying Urgently Needed Medical Supplies Lands in Sana'a

MSF currently has 558 staff members in Yemen. MSF first worked in Yemen in 1986 and has been working continuously in the country since 2007. MSF currently runs medical projects in Sana’a, Amran, Aden, and Ad Dhale governorates and provides medical aid to different parts of the country during emergencies.

Since the clashes erupted in Aden on the 19th of March between forces loyal to president Hadi and special security forces - a rebel unit loyal to the former president Saleh - the conflict intensified in Aden and other areas in the South of Yemen, including Ad-Dhale', Lawdar and Lahj. MSF emergency surgical unit received more than 600 patients from March 19 until April 5, but it is more and more difficult for wounded to reach the hospital as roads are often blocked and ambulances stopped, attacked and highjacked. Depuis que les combats ont éclaté le jeudi 19 mars à Aden entre les forces fidèles au président Hadi et les forces spéciales de sécurité,une unité rebelle fidèle à l'ancien président Saleh, le conflit s'est intensifié à Aden ainsi que dans d'autres zones du sud du Yémen, y compris à Ad-Dhale', Lawdar et Lahj. L'unité chirurgicale d'urgence de MSF d'Aden a reçu plus de 600 patients entre le 19 mars et le 5 avril, mais les blessés ont de plus de plus de difficultés à atteindre l'hôpital, les routes étant souvent bloquées et les ambulances attaquées, confisquées ou braquées.