MSF emergency surgical care unit in Aden, Yemen.

    Yemen Crisis

    16th April 2015

    Since 19 March, more than 850 war-wounded people have received emergency treatment in Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) projects across Yemen.

    This number comes despite blocking of major access roads leading to medical facilities, attacks on Ministry of Health ambulances and killing of Red Crescent staff, and scores of injured lying in the street for hours as sniper fire and intense street-to-street fighting prevents help reaching them.

    • More than 850 people wounded by the conflict across Yemen have been treated by MSF since 19 March.
    • One MSF shipment arrived on 8 March with 1.7 tonnes of supplies. A second ICRC boat is on its way with our surgical and emergency team of six on board. 
    • On 13 April, an MSF cargo plane carrying 15 tonnes of urgently needed medical supplies arrived in Sana'a from Djibouti. 
    • We have a total of 558 staff working in the country: 16 international staff and 539 Yemeni staff.

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    MSF's response to the crisis in Yemen: in-depth

    A map of MSF's activities in Yemen, 2013.

    Yemen Crisis: In-depth

    Response in the south

    More than 600 people have received treatment in the MSF hospital in Aden in the south, where fighting between Houthi forces/forces loyal to Yemeni former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and groups supporting President Abed Rabbuh Mansur Hadi has centered.

    Aerial and naval bombing from a coalition of countries backing Hadi is compounding the dangers facing people from the pitched battles taking place inside the city.

    Our staff is responding to repeated mass casualty events in which as many as 100 injured have arrived at the hospital at the same time. The team in Aden has dealt with several waves of mass casualties in the last three weeks. However, while they received more than 550 injured between 19 March and 31 March, less than 100 injured could make it to the hospital in the first week of April despite violence escalating.

    More than 150 people have also been treated in two MSF emergency projects in Ad-Dhale governorate, where MSF staff continue to run an ambulance service ferrying wounded across the front line after a brief suspension as security was reassessed. After a period of calm over the weekend, violence has again increased in the area.

    Medical support in the north

    MSF also continues supporting the hospital in Haradh town, where 34 injured were taken following an airstrike on Al Mazraq displacement camp on 30 March.

    MSF has also successfully flown an additional surgeon into the capital, Sana’a, who has been sent to MSF’s project in the town of Khamer, Amran governorate, to strengthen surgical capacity in the north of the country. In Sana’a itself MSF is providing supplies to the Al Jumhoori hospital and continues its regular HIV project.

    More supplies and staff needed urgently

    With humanitarian needs escalating rapidly, MSF is working relentlessly to get more medical supplies and staff into Yemen. On Wednesday 8 April, one MSF boat successfully made the  crossing from nearby Djibouti to Aden with 1.7 tonnes of supplies to replenish stocks at the MSF Emergency Surgical Unit in Aden. A second boat, organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross, brought an additional MSF surgical team into Aden who immediately started working at the hospital.

    On Monday 13 April, an MSF cargo plane carrying 15 tonnes of urgently needed medical supplies arrived in Sana'a from Djibouti. This shipment will allow MSF to provide additional emergency support in the capital and across the country.
    “These medical supplies are urgently needed and will allow us to better respond to the needs in different parts of Yemen,” said Marie-Elisabeth Ingres, country representative for MSF in Yemen. “But the supply routes must stay open to allow more aid into the country, and easy access has to be facilitated to bring in more medical supplies and personnel via air and sea.”  

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    Our work

    Why are we there?

    • Armed conflict
    • Displacement
    • Massive flow of migrants

    Background: 2013

    This is an extract from our latest Activity Report, looking back on our work in the previous year.

    There was a significant deterioration in living conditions in parts of Yemen in 2013, and insecurity towards the end of the year affected availability and accessibility of healthcare.

    Insecurity affected programmes supported by Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF), further cutting people off from healthcare, and activities had to be suspended twice in Amran and once in Aden.

    Over 150 Yemeni patients were sent from Yemen to MSF’s reconstructive surgery programme in Amman, Jordan, which provides orthopaedic, maxillofacial and reconstructive plastic surgery (for more details, see Jordan).


    MSF continued to work in Ad-Dali governorate, but problems with security caused significant disruptions to the provision of healthcare there at the end of the year. Food shortages and maternal and child health are of great concern in the area.

    Teams worked with local communities, both rural and urban, providing care for victims of violence and trauma.

    Emergency services, including surgery, were available at the Al Naser general hospital, Ad-Dali city, and patients received basic healthcare and lifesaving surgery in Al Azaraq and Qataba’a districts. More than 41,704 consultations were carried out.

    Aden and the south

    In Aden, more than 2,500 surgeries were performed and 860 patients received post-surgery follow-up and physiotherapy at MSF’s emergency surgical unit, which treated victims of violence from Aden as well as the nearby governorates of Lahj, Abyan, Shabwah and Ad Dhale.

    A weekly clinic was run for inmates at Aden central prison, and 80 patients were seen each month.

    Staff support and supplies were provided to hospitals in Lawdar and Jaar in Abyan governorate. Teams also trained emergency room staff and sterilisation technicians.

    Amran governorate

    Access to healthcare decreases progressively in the rural areas of Amran governate and ceases to exist for communities in the valleys.

    At Al-Salam hospital, Khamir, MSF is involved in the emergency, surgery, maternity, paediatric, inpatient and intensive care departments, and collaborates closely with the Ministry of Health to improve medical services.

    Support is also provided for the blood bank and laboratory. There was a dramatic rise in surgery patients towards the end of the year after violence intensified in the governorate. More than 1,940 surgical procedures were performed, and 4,080 people were admitted to hospital. Teams carried out 21,980 emergency consultations.

    MSF resumed its support of the Huth health centre in March, after six months’ suspension for security reasons.

    A team provided emergency, maternity and inpatient care. In September, Huth became a stabilisation centre for managing large influxes of wounded people, providing emergency care and a referral system.

    To assist the communities in remote areas with very limited access to healthcare, teams ran mobile clinics in the Osman and Akhraf valleys, carrying out 5,350 consultations and treating 427 patients for malaria.

    Caring for migrants in Sana’a

    MSF began providing HIV care to people in Sana’a in 2013. A mental health programme for migrants in detention also started in April.

    Programme handovers

    In February, MSF handed over activities at the Radfan hospital, Lahj governorate, to the Ministry of Health. A programme offering healthcare at Haradh, Hajjah governorate was closed in August. 

    At the end of 2013, MSF had 459 staff in Yemen. MSF first started working in the country in 1986.

    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.

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