At least 11 people were killed, and other 19 were wounded on Monday after an airstrike hit a hospital in northwestern Yemen. The Yemeni hospital is currently being supported by the humanitarian group Doctor Without Borders.

The international humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French name Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), said on Monday that the Abs Hospital located in the northern Hajjeh province was hit by an airstrike at 3.45 p.m. In a news release, the group said that the explosion immediately killed nine people, including an MSF Yemeni staff member. Two others died while being brought to another local hospital, added the statement.

The aid group also wrote that the hospital’s GPS coordinates had repeatedly been shared battleground with all sides of the conflict. Image credit: EFE.

The health care facility was partially destroyed, said MSF. Patients and MSF staff evacuated after the airstrike. Teresa Sancristoval, the MSF emergency program manager for Yemen, claimed that once again  civil wars did not distinguish medical environments and urged all parties to cease attacks on health care institutions.

It is the fourth time that an MSF facility is hit by airstrikes in less than one year. Monday’s airstrike is the result of a war between a Saudi-led coalition and the Shiite Houthi rebels. Since March 2015, the Arab coalition began to launch airstrikes against the Shiite Houthi minority rebels in Yemen.

“Once again, today we witness the tragic consequences of the bombing of a hospital. Once again, a fully functional hospital full of patients and MSF national and international staff members was bombed in a war that has shown no respect for medical facilities or patients,” Sancristoval said in the news release.

Médecins Sans Frontiéres (MSF) Yemen

The aid group started providing assistance at the Yemeni hospital in the Abs district in March 2015. MSF wrote on its website that more than 219,000 patients have received medical help in the center since it was opened.

The Abs hospital facilities, located in Hajjah province, have provided numerous medical services, assistance on emergencies, maternal health care, and dialysis to people in the region. The hospital also offers a range of services and medical aid for internally displaced people.

MSF reported in May that since last year, aerial attacks on MSF-supported health institutions have killed at least 100 staff members and wounded another 130. Image credit: Reuters.

MSF has spent 860 tons of medical supplies to provide medical assistance to 108,000 patients in the emergency room, including 37,000 war wounded cases since it started operating in the region.

Other 49,000 displaced people have received free consultations, while the medical team has conducted more than 15,000 surgeries, and 10,000 females have been assisted being in labor.

To provide medical assistance, the hospital counts with 14 beds at the emergency room section, as well as a maternity unit and a surgical ward. MSF authorities have claimed that all hospital’s units have had to assist wounded patients during the last weeks. The ER section could not provide assistance to high amounts of patients that have been victims of clashes and bombings.

During Monday’s attack, the group said there were 23 patients in the surgery ward. 23 women were hospitalized in the maternity ward as well as 13 newborns. 12 patients were in the pediatric ward.

Doctors Without Borders aid has claimed it is not the first time a hospital supported by the group has been attacked in Yemen. At least five people were killed in January after a bombing targeted a health care institution in northern Yemen. Ten people were wounded that time, including three Doctors Without Borders volunteers.

International concerns

After Monday’s airstrike, several international humanitarian groups have condemned the Yemeni hospital bombing. Amnesty International has expressed concerns about Monday’s bombing over the health care institution and has described the attack as a deplorable act and potentially a war crime.

Image credit: Reuters.

“Today’s airstrike appears to be the latest in a string of unlawful attacks targeting hospitals highlighting an alarming pattern of disregard for civilian life. Deliberately targeting medical facilities is a serious violation of international humanitarian law which would amount to a war crime. The circumstances of this attack must be thoroughly and independently investigated,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Amnesty’s International program.

In turn, the official Saudi Press Agency said that the UN Secretary-General has demanded urgent investigation over the recent airstrike that has targeted civilians in Yemen. The agency has also considered MSF’s claims about bombings that Coalition airstrikes perpetrated on two schools in northern Yemen on Saturday, causing the death of 14 children.

In the statement released after Monday’s airstrikes, MSF remarked that independent investigations following international standards will be conducted to examine the incident.

Source: Doctors Without Borders