Yemen: MSF suspends hospital admissions in Aden after patient is kidnapped and killed

Inside MSF's trauma hospital in Aden, Yemen.

Yemen 2018 © Agnes Varraine-Leca/MSF

ADEN, YEMEN/NEW YORK, April 4, 2019—Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has suspended all patient admissions to the organization's emergency trauma hospital in Aden, Yemen, following the kidnapping and killing of a patient.

On the morning of April 2, a group of armed men threatened guards and medical staff at Al Sadaqah hospital before entering the building and kidnapping a patient who had been admitted the previous day and was due to undergo surgery. Later the same day, the patient was found dead on a street in the city's Al Mansoura district. 

This incident follows several other threats and security incidents this year involving patients and staff, even as the hospital is particularly busy treating people wounded in the escalating violence in Aden.

"Following this incident, we have no choice but to suspend the admission of patients until further notice," said Caroline Seguin, MSF's program manager for Yemen. "Over recent weeks, the hospital has been functioning at full capacity, particularly the emergency room and intensive care unit, following an escalation of violence in the city."

The hospital continues to treat previously admitted patients.

MSF teams have been working in Al Sadaqah hospital in Aden since 2012. Since then, they have provided more than 30,000 emergency consultations to patients coming from various regions affected by fighting, including Abyan, Taiz and Hodeidah governorates.

"This suspension comes at a critical time for patients and their families from Aden, as well as patients from Hodeidah and Taiz governorates, from which we receive war-wounded patients in need of urgent surgical care on a daily basis," said Seguin. "We are extremely worried by the deteriorating security situation inside Aden and its consequences for our medical activities, as incidents like these endanger the lives of both patients and staff." 

During the battle for Aden in 2015, MSF's hospital was one of very few surgical facilities still functioning inside the city. Between March and August 2015, MSF teams treated more than 2,800 war-wounded at the hospital. During this time, MSF teams also ran an advanced emergency post and surgical mobile clinics in the city to stabilize the war-wounded patients and improve their chances of survival.

In 2018, MSF increased the capacity of Al Sadaqah hospital to 104 beds to respond to an influx of war-wounded patients following the Hodeidah offensive. During 2018, MSF teams provided more than 6,000 emergency consultations and performed 5,400 surgeries at Al Sadaqah hospital, 90 percent of which were for injuries from violence.

In Yemen, MSF teams 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, Sanaa, Shabwah, and Taiz.