Dr. Joanne Liu, International President of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
I just came back from Yemen, where I spent two weeks with MSF teams who have been relentlessly expanding their assistance to the Yemeni population since the beginning of the conflict in March. MSF has been present in Yemen since 1986 – almost 30 years.
I was deeply shocked by what my colleagues told me and by what I myself witnessed in Sa’ada, Amran and Taiz Governorates. The continuous shelling in the North of the country, violent combat and pervasive insecurity mean that civilians cannot access health structures to get the medical assistance they desperately need. I was so impressed by the work done by my colleagues in Yemen, where provision of humanitarian assistance is extremely difficult, if not dangerous.
MSF has been running and supporting health facilities in 8 governorates across the country since the beginning of the conflict. Since March, we have treated almost 9,000 war wounded. The number of women and children amongst them is simply unacceptable. In Aden (South of the country), where fighting between the Houthis and the Southern resistance were at a peak ten days ago, MSF received 206 wounded in a few hours on the night of 19 July, with many women, elderly and children, following shelling by the Houthis.
The parties to the conflict are imposing an extreme violence on the Yemeni population. The arms embargo imposed by the UN Security Council has resulted in a de facto blockade for the population - as fuel, food and medical supplies are not coming in. Hospitals run out of supplies and fuel: in Taiz, out of 20 health structures, 15 are closed and the remaining hospitals are overwhelmed. The issue is not only about getting supplies into the country - these supplies need to reach people and medical structures across a country that is being bombed on a daily basis.