Home/Daniel Larison/The Saudis Bomb Another Hospital in Yemen

The Saudis Bomb Another Hospital in Yemen

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reports that one of their hospitals near Mocha in Yemen was attacked by an airstrike:

A hospital run by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières in Mocha, southwestern Yemen, was severely damaged yesterday evening when an aerial attack hit nearby buildings, including a military warehouse.

At the time of the attack, about 30 patients and 35 staff members were in the hospital. No casualties were reported among them, and the hospital was rapidly evacuated after the attack. The majority of patients in stable condition were able to leave the area on their own, while some critical patients, including two newborn babies, were transferred by MSF teams to another hospital in Mocha.

“It was only luck that no patients or staff were harmed in this attack; it could have been carnage,” said Caroline Seguin, manager of MSF programs in Yemen. “As the hospital is currently out of commission, the people in the area are now without much-needed care, including lifesaving care.”

The Saudi coalition has repeatedly targeted hospitals and clinics with airstrikes throughout the war, and it has done so again here. Fortunately, no patients were killed or injured this time, but any attack on a hospital or other medical facility is an outrageous war crime. The Saudi coalition has made a habit of striking at Yemen’s health care system with its bombing campaign. More than half of all medical facilities in the country have been damaged or destroyed by these attacks. In cases like this, the attack was clearly deliberate because MSF and other humanitarian organizations inform all belligerents of the locations of their facilities. The attack on this hospital is very much like the attack on the cholera treatment facility in Abs, also run by MSF. That facility’s location had been made known to the Saudi coalition, and coalition jets struck it repeatedly. MSF emphasized that the location of this hospital was known to all sides:

MSF once again states that all parties to the conflict must proactively take all necessary measures to spare medical facilities. The location of the hospital had previously been communicated to all warring parties and authorities and was well known by all warring parties in the area since the hospital opened in 2018.

Attacks on hospitals are outrageous under any circumstances, but they are particularly dangerous in Yemen because they strike at facilities that help to combat the widespread starvation and spread of preventable disease. Starvation and disease have already killed more than an estimated 130,000 people, and that makes them even deadlier to Yemeni civilians than the indiscriminate bombing campaign. Bombing a hospital and making it unusable will lead to many civilian deaths by cutting off access to essential treatment. This hospital will not be usable again for quite a while:

The MSF hospital was severely damaged by the explosions and a fire that broke out following the aerial attack. The pharmacy was burnt, and the office buildings were destroyed, while damage still has to be assessed on some technical buildings, including one housing the power generator. The windows of the hospital wards were shattered by the force of the blasts.

Medical activities in the hospital are currently suspended and some of the medical team will be relocated to Aden. Given the risk of unexploded devices, demining will be needed before any activity can restart at the hospital.

Attacks like this one are carried out deliberately to destroy the infrastructure that Yemeni civilians rely on while they endure the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. This is how the Saudi coalition wages war on Yemen, and these are the kinds of attacks that U.S. arms and support make possible.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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