Doctors Without Borders’ (MSF) carte blanche to operate in Yemen may well be under threat, after yet another of the humanitarian aid organisation’s facilities in the war-torn gulf state was bombed on Sunday. The attack, which has been strongly condemned by the organisation, is the third such incident to hit an MSF facility within the space of just three months, following airstrikes in the Haydan District on October 27th and Southern Taiz on December 3rd.
At least five people were killed and a further 10 injured in Sunday’s attack on the Shiara Hospital, which occurred in the Razeh District, close to the north-western border with Saudi Arabia. Amongst the injured were three MSF staff members, two of whom remain in critical condition.
Dan Sermand, general director of MSF Southern Africa said the organisation was concerned by an alarming trend of its hospitals and facilities being targeted in regional conflicts.
“This is an unacceptable situation, we are extremely worried by the fact that this is increasing in conflict areas, where medical facilities and all those buildings protected by international humanitarian law are being bombed,” he declared.
As per MSF procedure, prior to entering any conflict zone the organisation identifies to all parties involved where it will be operating and the type of work it will be conducting. According to Sermand, MSF had provided the GPS coordinates of its facilities to all sides involved in Yemen’s civil war.
“We are in constant dialogue with all parties. Our mandate of neutrality, impartiality and independence allows us to meet with these parties and explain why MSF is working there, which is to provide medical services to the people affected, regardless from which side of the conflict they are. So everybody knows where we are and what we are doing,” he stressed.
It remains unclear which party is responsible for the bombing as there has been no official response or communication from either faction, nor from the Saudi-led coalition backing the government of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
Sermand said the organisation would continue to interact with all sides to stress its mandate, in the hope of ensuring impunity to continue assisting those citizens injured or directly affected by the war.
More information on Doctors without Borders operations in Yemen can be found at https://www.msf.org.za/. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)