MSF UK doctor Natalie Roberts

"This is the first place I’ve been to where I haven’t met a journalist at all. This is a conflict that’s just not in the public eye. I feel like the whole world needs to understand what’s going on."

Natalie RobertsMSF doctor in north Yemen

Yemen is in the midst of a civil war. Since March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition has been fighting anti-government Houthi forces, resulting in widespread destruction, bombing and gun battles.

Ordinary people are bearing the brunt of an increasingly brutal conflict.Severe water shortages combined with airstrikes, sniper attacks and a fuel blockade have rapidly turned this conflict into a humanitarian crisis, with over one million people displaced from their homes.

The need for food, water, shelter, sanitation and medical care is growing daily.

Many clinics and hospitals have been destroyed, and those that are still functioning are in urgent need of more medical supplies.

Abs Hospital bombing

Abs hospital in northwest Yemen was hit by an airstrike at 15.45 local time on 15 August 2016, killing at least 19 people and injuring 24. 

The blast immediately killed nine people, including a Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) staff member, and two more patients died while being transferred to Al Jamhouri hospital.

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This page attempts to give an overview of the deeply concerning situation in Yemen today and what we are doing to help. Use the links below to hear from our staff and patients, find out more about our work prior to the conflict, and the latest news from MSF.

Crisis information

At the end of March 2016:

  • We received more than 37,000 war wounded since March 2015
  • More than 15,000 surgeries performed in MSF facilities.
  • More than 49,000 medical consultations provided for displaced people in MSF mobile clinics
  • More than 10,000 women gave birth in MSF facilities
  • More than 144,000 patients seen in the emergency room
  • More than 1,100 tonnes of medical supplies sent to Yemen

MSF is carrying out activities in or supporting 11 hospitals and health centres, and is providing support to another 18 hospitals or health centres in eight governorates: Aden, Al-Dhale’, Taiz, Saada, Amran, Hajjah, Ibb and Sana’a governorates.

A total of 2,102 MSF staff are currently working in Yemen – 97 international staff and 2,005 Yemeni staff – making it among MSF´s largest missions in terms of personnel.

Natalie Roberts, an MSF UK doctor in Yemen

MSF UK doctor Natalie Roberts

"An airplane flying overhead has just bombed a few hundred metres away and is still circling. I’m not quite sure what it’s targeting, but just in case it makes a mistake with our car, we all get out and crouch around the corner," writes Natalie Roberts in her MSF blog.

"The plane drops three bombs nearby and then flies off again and we get back in the car and on our way.

"But it gave us all a bit of a fright. I think it’s pretty normal to be scared in a situation like that.

We’re helping set up an emergency room inside a health centre, which is the size of a small British GP’s surgery.
Since the conflict started, they’ve been seeing 40-50 wounded patients a week.


Hear more from our staff on our MSF Yemen blog

"It’s difficult, but there is a reason for making these trips on these dangerous roads. You go to these places and you realise nobody else medical has managed to get there to help.

"I was in Syria before, and I’ve worked in Ukraine and other warzones. This feels similar to Syria in lots of ways, with the destruction done by the airstrikes.

"The injuries you see are very similar, and you never get used to that. And you shouldn’t ever get used to that, particularly when the violence is affecting children or women who are just going about their normal lives.

Follow @MSF_uk and @msf_yemen on Twitter
to keep up to date with the crisis as it unfolds.


MSF's activities in Yemen: 2015

MSF in Yemen 2015

151,000 outpatient consultations
10,400 surgical interventions
14,700 patients admitted to hospital
£32.6m expenditure
551 MSF staff

Armed conflict escalated into a full-scale war in Yemen in 2015, exacerbating already massive medical and humanitarian needs and severely restricting access to healthcare.

By year’s end, the United Nations estimated that 2,800 people had been killed and some 2.5 million were internally displaced. The healthcare system has been decimated: medical staff have fled the country, facilities have been destroyed and medical supplies cut.

MSF managed to maintain its operations in Aden when it was divided by a frontline. In other areas it also scaled up its activities during 2015 as much as security allowed, despite an attack that destroyed the hospital it supports in Haydan, Saada governorate, on 26 October and another on its tented clinic in Al-Houban, Taiz governorate, on 2 December, which wounded nine.

A fuel blockade hampered the delivery of aid, while fighting, shifting frontlines and airstrikes restricted the movements of people and humanitarian organisations.


Saada governorate was one of the worst-affected areas. From March, there were daily airstrikes targeting many civilian areas, including healthcare facilities, and access to medical care was almost impossible in some districts. In April, we started supporting Haydan hospital’s emergency room and maternity services, but had to suspend activities following an airstrike in October.

They could only resume in December, using an undamaged part of the building. In May, a team started working in Al Jomhouri hospital in Saada city, providing emergency, inpatient and intensive care, and maternity and mental health services for a population of about 700,000 people.  

Over 6,110 patients were attended to in the emergency room, and over 2,900 surgeries were performed.

Ad Dhale

Intense conflict broke out in Ad Dhale governorate in April but had subsided by August, when the frontline moved towards Ibb. People were trapped in the conflict areas and there were many deaths resulting from war injuries. We expanded our support in Ministry of Health hospitals and basic healthcare clinics such as Al Salaam and Al-Azariq, providing outpatient and emergency consultations, surgery, inpatient care and reproductive healthcare.

The teams carried out more than 60,000 outpatient and emergency consultations, performed over 700 surgical procedures and made around 1,000 referrals.


There was intense fighting in Aden between March and July. In Sheikh Othman district of Aden city, MSF continued to run the emergency trauma centre, comprising an emergency room, two operating theatres, an intensive care unit and an inpatient ward. Mental health and physiotherapy consultations were also provided.

Many of the patients were children wounded by landmines and unexploded ordnance. Overall, teams carried out 7,778 emergency consultations and 4,300 violence-related surgical interventions. During the peak of the conflict, emergency healthcare was available in three health clinics in districts where medical access was very limited.


Taiz city, with an estimated population of around 600,000, was the scene of intense fighting as of July 2015. Some inhabitants were trapped in an enclave under siege, and a blockade on medical supplies began in August, which has had a major impact on healthcare access. We have provided support to hospitals on both sides of the frontline, by donating medical supplies. On the Al-Houban side, we provided assistance to the military hospital, Yemeni International and Al-Risalah, and inside the enclave, MSF supported Al-Thawra and Al-Rawda hospitals.

Altogether, MSF provided more than 15,400 emergency room consultations, 6,800 consultations for people with war wounds, 1,100 surgical interventions and 10,900 wound dressings. Relief items such as blankets, food and jerry cans were also distributed to displaced people in the city.

In November, MSF opened a mother and child hospital in the Al-Houban neighbourhood, providing emergency services and reproductive healthcare, and an outpatient department for children under 10. Some 7,800 outpatient consultations and 7,500 emergency room consultations were completed.


MSF continued its project at Al-Salam hospital, providing emergency, maternity, inpatient and outpatient services and assisting in the laboratory and blood bank. As access to medical care in other healthcare facilities decreased, MSF scaled up its activities in Amran hospital, carrying out 3,000 surgical interventions and 28,200 emergency consultations. More than 5,500 patients were admitted to hospital and over 2,900 babies were delivered.

MSF supported the health centre in Huth, completing 9,300 emergency consultations, and provided drug donations and training to three facilities in the north of the governorate.


In May, MSF opened a project supporting Beni Hassan health centre, and offering medical aid to 15,000 internally displaced people through mobile clinics. The team provided outpatient consultations, and distributed relief items and up to 240,000 litres of water per day.

In July, the programme moved to Abs hospital, a more comprehensive facility in Abs district, to provide the population with a greater range of services, including emergency and maternal healthcare and surgery.


MSF continued its HIV programme at Al Gumhuri hospital in Sana’a city, providing antiretroviral treatment to 770 people.


Two cyclones hit the southeast coast of Yemen in November. MSF set up a mobile clinic in Mukalla, to assist families who had lost their homes, and made donations to the local hospital and blood bank. Around 300 consultations were undertaken. Blankets, jerry cans and washing kits were distributed to 200 displaced families. About 50 kilometres away on the west coast, in the district of Borom Mayfa, the team set up 14 water tanks to provide water for over 400 displaced families.

Patient story

Mohamed, from Shabwah

Mohamed, from Shabwah

My nephew was shot during gunfire in Shabwah. There was no hospital … nothing in the area. The only place we could bring him was here [MSF’s hospital in Aden].

We sincerely thank MSF for the unconditional medical care they offered to him and to everybody in this hospital.

Latest news

A map of MSF's activities in Yemen, as of June 2015

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