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In Response to Indiscriminate Saudi Bombing, MSF Evacuates Northern Yemen

The blame lies squarely with Riyadh, its allies, and its Western patrons.
In Response to Indiscriminate Saudi Bombing, MSF Evacuates Northern Yemen

Things are getting even worse for the civilian population of Yemen as Doctors Without Borders (MSF) announces that it is pulling its staff and medical personnel out of northern Yemen following the latest bombing of one of their hospitals there earlier this week:

Doctors Without Borders announced on Thursday that it’s withdrawing from northern Yemen due to what the international aid group called “indiscriminate bombings and unreliable reassurances” from the Saudi-led coalition that’s fighting Shiite rebels in the country.

The group, known by its French acronym MSF, said an attack on a hospital it supported in the area on Monday had killed 19 people and wounded 24 — a higher death toll after some of the wounded had died. Earlier, 11 were reported killed.

“The airstrike on Abs Hospital was the fourth and the deadliest attack on an MSF-supported medical facility during this war, while there have been numerous attacks on other health facilities all over Yemen,” the Geneva-based group said in a statement.

This is another devastating blow to the people living in northern Yemen. Not only have the Saudis and their allies grossly and repeatedly violated international law with their bombing of civilian targets for well over a year, but they have struck so many hospitals that they are now forcing a major aid group out of the area. That deprives injured and sick Yemenis of essential medical care that is made all the more necessary by the frequent indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas by the coalition, and it further cuts off this part of Yemen from an outside world that was already mostly ignoring its plight. The next time that the Saudis bomb a school or a residence or a factory or some other building filled with noncombatants in this part of the country, the wounded won’t be able to rely on MSF’s help. It needs to be stressed that this is not MSF’s fault. The blame lies squarely with Riyadh, its allies, and its Western patrons that have committed and enabled the crimes that prompted this decision. Doctors Without Borders were put in an impossible situation by the reckless and criminal behavior of the Saudi-led coalition, and have understandably refused to wait around for the next “accidental” bombing of one of their facilities.

Trevor Timm excoriates the administration for its role in making the Saudi-led bombing campaign possible:

The fact that the Obama administration has allowed the Saudis to continue committing war crimes should be a full-fledged scandal. Officials should be resigning over this and shouting from the rooftops. Instead, for months, we’ve heard almost nothing from the administration beyond a couple boilerplate, lukewarm expressions of “concern” as the death toll has mounted over a year and a half. Finally, after prodding from reporters last week, the US state department condemned the bombing of a Doctors Without Borders (AKA Médecins sans Frontières) hospital that killed at least 15 people. But then, the state department spokesman refused to say whether the US would stop supplying the Saudis with the weapons they are using.

Perhaps MSF’s decision will draw more attention to the catastrophe unfolding in Yemen, and perhaps that will prompt more criticism of the administration’s indefensible policy of support for this war. I hope that is the case, but in the meantime the people of Yemen, and especially northern Yemen, are in even greater danger than before.



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