Yemen: Blockade by Saudi-Led Coalition Hindering Medical Aid

Florian Seriex

SANA'A, YEMEN/NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 17, 2017—The Saudi-led coalition's continuing blockade of Yemen's ports and airports is significantly hindering the efforts of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and other humanitarian organizations to provide lifesaving assistance to people in the war-torn country.

For the past 12 days, MSF has not received authorization from the Saudi-led coalition to fly into Yemen's capital, Sana'a, which is essential to bring medical supplies and staff to patients in need.

MSF's patients report that the blockade is having an enormous impact on their lives, as fuel, water, and food become harder to find and increase in price by the day. 

Statement from Justin Armstrong, MSF head of mission in Yemen:

"For the past 12 days, MSF has not received authorization from the Saudi-led coalition to fly from Djibouti to Sana'a. This has significantly hindered our ability to provide lifesaving medical and humanitarian assistance to a population already in dire need.

"On November 15, MSF's usual scheduled weekly flight to Aden was authorized, enabling MSF to operate one return flight from Djibouti. The authorization was a welcome step, helping to provide assistance through MSF projects in Aden, Taiz, and nearby governorates.

"However, Aden's airport is far from sufficient for MSF to be able to deliver timely and urgent medical humanitarian aid across Yemen. Aden is located far from some of the areas in most need of humanitarian assistance, and is itself highly insecure. The overall impact of the continuing blockade of other ports and airports increases the strain on the population by the day, at a time when the majority of Yemenis are already struggling with massive increases in food, water and fuel costs, as well as a lack of access to medical care.

"MSF continues to request authorization for flights to Sana'a, which, together with other areas of the north, are among the places most affected by the blockade. Access for humanitarian flights into Yemen through Sana'a airport is essential for MSF's medical and humanitarian operations, as well as for other organizations trying to support the Yemeni population."

MSF currently works in 13 hospitals and health centers in Yemen and provides support to more than 18 hospitals or health centers across 11 Yemeni governorates: Taiz, Aden, Al-Dhale', Saada, Amran, Hajjah, Ibb, Sana'a, Hodaida, Abyan, and Lahj. MSF has nearly 1,600 staff in Yemen, including 82 international staff, and provides financial support to more than 1,100 Ministry of Heath staff.

Read More: Yemen: Saudi-Led Coalition Must Allow Access for Humanitarian Organizations