YEMEN: Saudi-led Coalition’s blockage of MSF flights into Yemen, a huge hindrance to provision of aid

Thursday, November 9, 2017 — Over the last 3days, the Saudi-led coalition has not allowed Doctors Without Borders (MSF) flights into Yemen, directly hindering the organisation’s ability to provide life-saving medical and humanitarian assistance to a population already in dire need. As such, MSF is calling on the Saudi-led coalition to immediately allow unhindered access to and within Yemen so that humanitarian assistance can reach those most in need.

On November 6, the Saudi-led coalition stated that all Yemeni border crossings; seaports and airports would be closed immediately but that they would consider “the entry and exit of humanitarian supplies and crews”. So far, this promise has not been upheld. 

“For the past 3 days, the Saudi-led coalition has not allowed MSF to fly from Djibouti to Sana’a or Aden, despite continued requests for authorisation of our flights. Access for humanitarian personnel and cargo into Yemen is essential to deliver desperately needed assistance to a population already severely affected by more than two and a half years of conflict”, said Justin Armstrong, MSF Head of Mission in Yemen.

Access to healthcare across Yemen is already severely limited. Hundreds of health facilities have been closed, damaged or totally destroyed during the conflict. Millions of Yemenis have been displaced and lack access to basic goods, adequate nutrition and safe water.

“The broader impact of this blockade on the men, women and children of Yemen is already evident and puts hundreds of thousands of lives at risk. Fuel prices have skyrocketed in major centres, supplies of diesel and cooking gas are becoming scarce, and shipments of essential medicines are stuck at border crossings. The already devastated Yemeni economy will undoubtedly decline further, making it more and more difficult for Yemenis to meet their basic needs, which is why humanitarian assistance is so vital” added Armstrong.

The statement by the Saudi-led coalition also included a broader warning for humanitarian organisations to avoid certain areas within Yemen. This would further exclude thousands of people most affected by the crisis from essential healthcare. Such measures would contradict the humanitarian principle of impartiality, which states that assistance should reach those who need it most, regardless of any political considerations.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

MSF currently works in 13 hospitals and health centres in Yemen and provides support to more than 18 hospitals or health centres across 11 Yemeni governorates: Taiz, Aden, Al-Dhale’, Saada, Amran, Hajjah, Ibb, Sana’a, Hodaida, Abyan, and Lahj. With nearly 1,600 staff, including 82 international staff, and financial support for over 1,100 Ministry of Health staff, Yemen is among MSF´s largest missions in the world in terms of personnel.

A Yemeni man surveys the damage from an airstrike from the previous night on July 21, 2015 in Qataba, Yemen. At least four missiles struck a cluster of houses outside Qataba, killing at least four people and injuring dozens, many of whom were brought to the MSF supported hospital in Qataba. Photographer: MSF
Khormaksar district an area once popular with tourist hotels next to the airport in Aden lies in ruins. July 2015. Photographer: Guillaume Binet
Haydan Hospital, March 2016, after 5 months of air strikes. Photographer: Atsuhiko Ochiai
Displaced from the heavy fighting in Haradh bordertown and Sa'bah governorate are seen in Al Manjoorah temporary settlement at the outskirts of Beni Hassan, in Hajjah province, Northwest of Yemen. Photographer: Narciso Contreras
A child approaches an MSF vehicle in the besieged city of Aden. The city has been blockaded for four months and the residents are desparately short of food and medical supplies, July 2015. Photographer: Guillaume Binet/MYOP
Displaced women from the heavy fighting in Sa'bah governorate are seen in a temporary settlement at the outskirts of Beni Hassan, in Hajjah province, Northwest of Yemen. Photographer: Narciso Contreras
Hadiya has 6 children, and the last one, Yahya, is lying next to her, asleep. While she was breastfeeding him, she realized that he had fever. As a result, she began to alternate breastfeeding, powdered milk and cereals but the situation only got worse. Hadiya had no choice but to leave her home in the mountains, her farm and her children to take Yahya to the hospital. "While I'm not there, it's my 13-year-old girl who takes care of everything at home." Hadiya's husband went to sell some Khat in a nearby town to cover some of the costs. If the hospital is free, one has to pay the transportation to Khamir (15000 YR, or nearly $ 50).Al Salam Hospital / Khamir / Yemen. Photographer: Florian SERIEX