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For Immediate Release

Attacks on Medical Facilities in Yemen is a “Defining Element” of Nation’s Intractable Conflict

Physicians for Human Rights Issues New Publication with Analysis on Latest Attacks on Health in Yemen

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Josh Glasstetter

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The deliberate targeting of health care facilities, with devastating impact on civilians, is a defining element of the ongoing conflict in Yemen. Al-Tawra Hospital, the central public hospital and one of the main health care facilities in Taiz, Yemen’s second largest city with a population of over one million, has been directly targeted by dozens of mortar shells since the beginning of the conflict in March 2015. These attacks have destroyed numerous departments in the hospital, many of which remain shut. Even as the frontline of the conflict has moved away from the city, al-Thawra Hospital has continued to be targeted.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has independently confirmed two attacks on al-Thawra Hospital since October 2017. The group released the finding in its new, bimonthly publication on attacks on health in Yemen, which launched today. PHR engages directly with field sources in Yemen to document attacks on functioning health care facilities and will provide bimonthly updates.

The conflict in Yemen has raged for almost three years and created one of the worst humanitarian crises in history. According to PHR research, hospitals and other health care facilities in Yemen have been subjected to targeted and indiscriminate attacks by several entities. PHR is calling on all parties to cease these war crimes immediately and calling for robust accountability for past and ongoing human rights violations in Yemen. The group is further urging all countries providing arms to the warring parties to condition weapons sales on certification that all feasible precautions are taken to ensure civilian objects are not targeted or indiscriminately hit.
“Al-Thawra is just one example of a Yemeni hospital that has been attacked repeatedly during the conflict,” said Maram Haddad, PHR research associate. “Mortar shells and attacks by militants have killed patients, medical workers, hospital staff, and bystanders. All across Yemen, civilians and health professionals are bearing the brunt of the continued attacks on health.”

“There is absolutely no justification for blocking humanitarian aid getting into the country,” Haddad added. “The compounding effect of a decimated health care system, lack of aid, and inaction by the UN Security Council in the face of violations by all parties in the conflict has led to unthinkable suffering by the civilian population.”

By the end of 2017, the International Rescue Committee and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that 50 percent of Yemen’s health care infrastructure had been destroyed. Humanitarian groups note that a lack of clean water and medical supplies has led to disease outbreaks. Millions of people are on the brink of starvation, and the health situation was exacerbated by a blockade against humanitarian and commercial traffic imposed in November that although temporarily eased has yet to be permanently lifted.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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