Late last night, three of the five patients hospitalized after yesterday’s airstrike that hit a hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in northwestern Yemen, died, raising the death toll from 11 to 14 people, according to the latest information gathered by the teams in Hajjah.
The medical team did all they possibly could for the patients, but they arrived in the hospital in extremely critical condition. The death toll includes Abdul Kareem al Hakeemi, an MSF staff who died from injuries caused by the blast. Twenty-four people were injured from the airstrike. MSF knows of twenty-four injured from the airstrikes who were referred to different health facilities in the area. MSF is tracking them to monitor their condition.
At the time of the airstrike the hospital was full of patients recovering from surgery, in maternity, newborns, and children in paediatrics. “MSF evacuated all the patients and staff but with the closure of this once fully functioning hospital that served the whole area, the community is now deprived of essential medical services at a time when access to healthcare is most vital,” says Juan Prieto, Head of Mission in Yemen. MSF is still surveying the damage and will launch its own investigation into the attack.
This is the fourth attack against an MSF-supported facility in Yemen in the last year. “After each attack MSF receives reassurances from the actors in the conflict with promises that this will not happen again”, says Teresa Sancristóval, Manager of MSF’s Emergency Unit. “We do not want words, courtesies, overpromises which go undelivered. What we need to see is proof of intent and a commitment that there will be no more airstrikes on medical facilities, staff, and patients.”
“This new incident shows that there are no effective measures in place to ensure that hospitals are not another casualty of war. MSF has shared the coordinates and information related to all its facilities in Yemen with all parties to the conflict, yet we have been hit four times. If the current military protocols are leading to ‘mistakes’ then those protocols have to be changed because they are destroying fully functioning medical facilities, staff, and patients.”
Abs Hospital was the main medical facility functioning in the western part of Hajjah governorate. The facility has treated 4,611 patients since MSF began supporting the hospital in July 2015. The hospital had a 14-bed emergency room, a maternity unit and a surgical unit. In the last weeks the hospital had seen an increase in wounded patients, mostly victims of recent clashes and the aerial campaign in the area. At the moment of the strike, there were 23 patients in surgery, 25 in the maternity ward, 13 new borns, and 12 in pediatrics.