Saudi Coalition Forces Strike Yemen Cholera Treatment Center

GENEVA, Switzerland

Saudi-led Arab coalition forces were behind a June 11 airstrike that hit a newly constructed Medecins Sans Frontieres / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) cholera treatment center (CTC) in Abs, Yemen.

The facility was empty at the time because it had not yet received any cholera patients so no staff or patients were injured or killed, according to the humanitarian organization.

The CTC is located about one kilometer from the MSF-supported Abs Rural Hospital, a 147-bed hospital that serves a population of more than 1 million people. Markings on the roof of the compound clearly identified the CTC as a healthcare facility, MSF said.

The airstrike has now rendered the CTC non-functional and MSF has temporarily frozen its activities in Abs until the safety of its staff and patients is guaranteed, in line with security protocol.

João Martins, MSF´s Head of Mission in Yemen said: "This morning´s attack on an MSF cholera treatment center (CTC) by the Saudi and Emirati-led coalition (SELC) shows complete disrespect for medical facilities and patients. Whether intentional or a result of negligence, it is totally unacceptable. The compound was clearly marked as a health facility and its coordinates were shared with the SELC. With only half of health facilities in Yemen fully functional, nearly 10 million people in acute need, and an anticipated outbreak of cholera, the CTC had been built to save lives. MSF has temporarily frozen its activities in Abs until the safety of its staff and patients is guaranteed”.

A volatile mix of conflict, a deteriorating economic situation, and little or no access to clean drinking-water and sanitation have resulted in more than one million suspected cholera cases since the Yemen outbreak began in April 2017.

The UN describes Yemen as the "worst humanitarian crisis in the world", with about 8.4 million Yemenis facing imminent famine as well as battling cholera and diphtheria outbreaks.

Fighting between the Saudi-led Arab coalition backed by the US and UK, and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels has killed more than 10,000 people and caused over 40,000 casualties in Yemen since March 2015. Water networks, power plants, airports, bridges, roads, schools and health facilities have all been destroyed in the fighting.

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