SANA'A, YEMEN/NEW YORK—Medical facilities supported by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have received hundreds of people wounded in airstrikes and ground shelling across Yemen in recent days, and MSF teams have treated scores of people in several locations, including victims of a July 4 attack on a crowded marketplace in Harad District.
An MSF team treated more than 67 injured persons in Beni Hassan, in northwestern Yemen's Harad District, following a series of airstrikes targeting a busy marketplace after people broke Ramadan's fast on the night of July 4. An estimated 20 people were killed in the attack in the market, and the MSF team recovered nine dead bodies among the debris the following day. An elderly injured man was also rescued and transferred to Beni Hassan health center, where MSF has provided support since May 2015.
"It is unacceptable that airstrikes take place in highly concentrated civilian areas where people are gathering and going about their daily lives, especially at a time such as Ramadan," said Colette Gadenne, MSF head of mission in Yemen.
The attack on the market in Beni Hassan, called Aahem triangle, first hit a cooking-gas station at about 8:30 p.m. At about 9:00 p.m., a second attack hit the heart of the crowded market, as well as two restaurants and a hotel.
The MSF team was called to Beni Hassan an hour later, when private cars and public transport vehicles were already taking dozens of injured people to the health center. The team stabilized the wounded patients and referred three to the main hospitals of the region, al Jumhuri (Hajjah City) and al Olafi and al Thawara hospitals (Hodeida City).
MSF donated war-wounded kits for 100 persons to al Jumhuri hospital, which received over 40 referrals in total, and also provided fuel and ambulances.
Medical teams were quickly overwhelmed by the number of wounded persons and the severity of their injuries. "It has been terrible. We could never have imagined that we could receive so many severely injured people at one time in a small health center like Beni Hassan," said one member of the MSF team, Dr. Ammar. "The whole team is shocked by what they have seen, especially since it happened to people enjoying an evening in Ramadan."
Elsewhere in Yemen there have been several attacks with mass civilian casualties. In southern Yemen, MSF teams assisted 23 injured civilians due to an airstrike that took place in Alfayush market, in Lahj Governorate. In the nearby city of Aden, more than 80 injured people, including women and children, were treated by MSF staff members on July 1 as a result of heavy shelling on a residential area in Al-Mansoora district.
Ground shelling and clashes in Aden cause MSF teams to continuously receive wounded patients in the Emergency Surgical Hospital. In the last four months, more than 2,800 injured people, including women and children, have been treated there.
On July 5, in Amran governorate, in the east of the country, an MSF-supported hospital received seven injured people, including three children under 13 years old, due to airstrikes targeting Harf Sufian District.
Violence also hit Taiz governorate, in southwestern Yemen, where random shelling on the ground injured and killed several people, including women and children. From July 2 to 5, the MSF-supported Al-Rawdah hospital received 93 injured people and 16 fatalities as a result of several residential areas being shelled. The injured included a one-year-old baby.
In Taiz, MSF supports hospitals treating wounded patients on both warring sides with donations of dressing and surgical kits. Since March 2015, Al-Rawdah Hospital has received a total of 2,193 wounded people, including women and children, and 298 dead victims of violence. The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate to unacceptable levels, with families trapped behind the front lines and unable to obtain food commodities, fuel, and cooking gas.
Besides attacks in highly civilian-populated areas, medical infrastructure and staff have been intensively targeted, which has severely affected the capacity of the country's health care system to respond to the needs created by violence. The hospital of Harad, one of the few fully operational hospitals in the area of Hajjah, was shelled in mid-June and has now been rendered non-operational. Before the Aahem marketplace attack, an MSF team visiting the site of the bombed hospital in Harad also found itself under fire and had to flee the town.
MSF is an international medical humanitarian organization that provides health care in more than 70 countries according to medical ethics. In Yemen, MSF works in Aden, Sana'a, Al-Dhale', Amran, Sa'ada, Taiz, and Hajjah governorates.