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Yemen - Ahem Market, Harad

MSF treats dozens wounded after attacks on markets and residential areas

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Sana’a – Dozens of wounded people have been treated by Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) teams across Yemen following air-strikes and ground shelling carried out over the last few days in various parts of the country.

On the night of Saturday, 4 July an MSF team treated over 67 injured persons in Beni Hassan, in northwestern Yemen, following a series of airstrikes targeting a busy marketplace in Harad district after people broke their Ramadan fast. An estimated 20 people were killed in the attack in the market, and the MSF team recovered nine dead bodies among the debris the following day. An elderly injured man was also recovered and transferred to Beni Hassan health centre, where MSF has provided support since May 2015.  

The attack at the market, called Aahem triangle, started at around 8.30pm when a cooking-gas station was hit. Half an hour later a second attack followed in the heart of the crowded market, hitting two restaurants and a hotel.

The MSF team was called to Beni Hassan an hour later, when private cars and public transport vehicles were already taking dozens of injured people to the health centre. The team stabilised the wounded patients and referred three of them to the main hospitals of the region, al Jumhuri in Hajjah city, and al Olafi and al Thawara hospitals in Hodeida city. MSF donated war-wounded kits for 100 persons to al Jumhuri hospital (which received over 40 referrals in total) and also provided fuel and ambulances.

Medical teams were quickly overwhelmed by the number of wounded persons and the severity of their injuries. “It has been terrible. We could never have imagined that we could receive so many severely injured people at one time in a small health centre like Beni Hassan,” said MSF's Dr. Ammar. “The whole team is shocked by what they have seen, especially since it happened to people enjoying an evening in Ramadan.”

“It is unacceptable that airstrikes take place in highly concentrated civilian areas where people are gathering and going about their daily lives,” said Colette Gadenne, MSF Head of Mission in Yemen. “Especially at a time such as Ramadan.”

Since the onset of the conflict in Yemen there have been several attacks that caused  mass civilian casualties, many of whom were IDPs – who are already extremely vulnerable and live in precarious conditions.

Today in southern Yemen, MSF teams assisted 23 injured civilians following an airstrike that took place in Alfayush market, in Lahj governorate.  

In the nearby city of Aden, more than 80 injured, including women and children, were treated by MSF staff on 1 July as a result of heavy shelling on a residential area in Al-Mansoora district. Ground shelling and clashes in Aden cause MSF teams to continuously receive wounded in the Emergency Surgical Hospital.

In the last four months, more than 2,800 injured have been treated.

Yesterday in Amran governorate, in the east of the country, an MSF supported hospital received seven injured including three children under 13 years old, due to airstrikes targeting Harf Sufian district.

Violence also hit Taiz governorate, in southwestern Yemen, where random shelling on the ground caused injuries and death to several people including women and children. Between 2 and 5 July the MSF supported Al-Rawdah hospital received 93 injured and 16 dead as a result of several residential areas being shelled. In only one day, on Saturday, the hospital received 18 injured patients including a one year old baby.

In Taiz, MSF supports hospitals, treating wounded patients on both warring sides, with donations of dressing and surgical kits. Since March 2015, Al-Rawdah Hospital has received a total of 2,193 wounded people, including women and children, and 298 dead victims of violence. The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate to unacceptable levels with families trapped behind the front-lines and unable to obtain food commodities, fuel, or cooking gas.

Besides attacks on highly civilian populated areas, medical infrastructures and staff have been intensively targeted, which has severely affected the capacity of the country’s healthcare structure to respond in such a violent context. The hospital in Harad, one of the few fully operational hospitals in the area of Hajjah, was shelled in mid- June and has now been rendered non-operational. Before the Aahem marketplace attack last weekend, an MSF team visiting the site of the bombed hospital in Harad also found itself under fire and had to flee the town.