MSF calls for investigation of airstrikes on Yemeni hospitals

Published January 27th, 2016 - 09:57 GMT

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has affirmed that the Saudi-led coalition against Yemen required an independent international inquiry.

Following the latest attack on one of its health facilities, the MSF underlined that the conflict in Yemen is being waged with total disregard for the rules of war.

"The way war is being waged in Yemen shows that the warring parties do not recognize or respect the protected status of hospitals and medical facilities," said Raquel Ayora, MSF director of operations in a statement issued on Monday. "It is causing enormous suffering for people trapped in conflict zones. Public places are being bombed and shelled on a massive scale. Not even hospitals are being spared, even though medical facilities are explicitly protected by international humanitarian law."

Ayora censured the British Foreign Secretary's attempt to minimize the Saudi aggression's attacks on medical facilities to be as 'mistakes'. 

"Just last week the British Foreign Secretary claimed that there have been no deliberate breaches of international humanitarian law in Yemen by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This implies that mistakenly bombing a protected hospital would be tolerable. This logic is offensive and irresponsible," the MSF official said.

MSF's medical activities in Yemen have been bombed four times in less than three months. The organization is seeking guarantees from the warring parties that medical activities will be protected according to international humanitarian law.

The first attack took place on October 26, when airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition repeatedly hit an MSF-supported hospital in Haydan District in Saada Governorate.

An MSF mobile clinic was then hit by an airstrike on December 2 in Taiz's Al Houban District, killing one person and wounding eight people, including two MSF staff members.

On January 10, the MSF-supported Shiara Hospital in Sa'ada Province was bombed, killing six people and injuring at least seven, most of whom were medical staff and patients.

On January 21, a series of airstrikes in Sa'ada Governorate wounded dozens of people and killed at least six, including the driver of an ambulance from the MSF-supported Al Gomhoury Hospital.

In Yemen, MSF is working in Aden, Dhale, Taiz, Sa'ada, Amran, Hajjah, Ibb and Sana'a governorates. Since March 2015, MSF teams have treated more than 20,000 war-wounded patients in Yemen. More than 790 tons of medical supplies have been sent by MSF so far.

MSF is managing 11 hospitals and health centers and supporting 18 health centers. With the health care system barely functioning, MSF is also providing non-emergency health services.

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