SANA'A, YEMEN, November 7, 2019—A hospital run by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières in Mocha, southwestern Yemen, was severely damaged yesterday evening when an aerial attack hit nearby buildings, including a military warehouse.
At the time of the attack, about 30 patients and 35 staff members were in the hospital. No casualties were reported among them, and the hospital was rapidly evacuated after the attack. The majority of patients in stable condition were able to leave the area on their own, while some critical patients, including two newborn babies, were transferred by MSF teams to another hospital in Mocha.
"It was only luck that no patients or staff were harmed in this attack; it could have been carnage," said Caroline Seguin, manager of MSF programs in Yemen. "As the hospital is currently out of commission, the people in the area are now without much-needed care, including lifesaving care."
MSF once again states that all parties to the conflict must proactively take all necessary measures to spare medical facilities. The location of the hospital had previously been communicated to all warring parties and authorities and was well known by all warring parties in the area since the hospital opened in 2018.
The MSF hospital was severely damaged by the explosions and a fire that broke out following the aerial attack. The pharmacy was burnt, and the office buildings were destroyed, while damage still has to be assessed on some technical buildings, including one housing the power generator. The windows of the hospital wards were shattered by the force of the blasts.
Medical activities in the hospital are currently suspended and some of the medical team will be relocated to Aden. Given the risk of unexploded devices, demining will be needed before any activity can restart at the hospital.
MSF opened the Mocha hospital in August 2018 to provide emergency surgical care for patients suffering from conflict-related injuries, as well as providing treatment of other surgical emergencies, such as caesarean sections for complicated deliveries.
The 35-bed hospital is the only free-of-charge, civilian hospital providing these services in the Mocha area.
Since the beginning of the year, a total of 1,787 patients have been admitted to hospital, and 2,476 surgical procedures were performed, including 201 caesarean sections.
MSF has worked in Yemen since 1986. MSF teams currently work in 12 hospitals and provide support to more than 20 health facilities located in 11 governorates: Abyan, Aden, Amran, Hajjah, Hodeidah, Ibb, Lahj, Saada, Sana'a, Shabwah and Taiz.