© Didier Assal/MSF
02 Feb 18
Arunn JeganArunn JeganAustralianProject CoordinatorYemen

Yemen: "On an average day, we hear around five explosions a minute in Taiz"

I just arrived in Taiz, Yemen, where we support multiple hospitals on both sides of the frontlines.

Arunn Jegan, responding to the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh, September 2017

Although I read about the dire humanitarian situation before coming here, in my first week I realised how desperate the situation really is and how many challenges Yemenis face on a daily basis.

The day I arrived in Taiz (24 January 2018), violence escalated along the frontlines around Taiz City and the last few days have been extremely heavy. Sadly, this is daily life for the people here.

Over the last three days we have treated over 117 war-wounded, and the number continues to grow as we speak.

Overflowing with wounded

As the conflict intensified, the emergency rooms and the operational theatres were overflowing with wounded. We received around 70 patients on one day alone.

We treated people injured by gunshots, shrapnel and landmines; the scenes were extremely shocking.

"I hear the continuous sounds of gunfire and shelling from the frontlines very close to our medical facilities, which places extra pressure on our staff, both mentally and physically"
arunn jeganmsf project coordinator

The hospital staff have been working continuously these past few days, some with very little sleep, while they attempt to stabilise the wounded. Some made it and some didn’t, the scenes of despair were difficult to observe.

The requests coming from the hospital for blood donations and body bags make me aware of the harsh reality the people of Taiz have been living for years now.

Watch: British logistician describes life in Taiz

A mother of five told us that her 16-year-old son was wounded by shrapnel while playing football. She had to sell her jewelry to pay for the transport – jewelry she was saving for the future of her children, rather than to save her children.

Her son eventually made his way to our facility and is in a stable condition.

Proud of my colleagues

In Yemen there has been constant fighting since the conflict erupted in 2015. Unfortunately, the situation has not improved since the first shots were fired three years ago.

People in the city are cautious to leave their homes, but our staff are committed to treating the wounded and arrive to the office with resolve. I’m proud to call them my colleagues.

I hear the continuous sounds of gunfire and shelling from the frontlines very close to our medical facilities, which places extra pressure on our staff, both mentally and physically. On an average day this week, we heared around five explosions per minute.

Hakim, one our staff members, told his children to stay inside and not leave the house. But his daughter asked him: “then where are you going every day?”.

It's stories like this that give you a glimpse of the daily challenges and the urgency of this situation.

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