Saudi-led air strikes destroy Yemen hospital

BEIRUT • A hospital in northern Yemen run by Doctors Without Borders has been destroyed by warplanes belonging to a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia, even though according to the relief organisation, the coalition had been given the coordinates of the hospital.

The air strikes on Monday forced the evacuation of staff and patients from the site and raised new questions about what precautions Saudi Arabia and its military partners were taking to avoid civilians.

The coalition of 10 Arab states receives military and intelligence support from the United States and has been battling Yemen's Houthi rebels since March. Bombings by the coalition have killed more than 1,100 people - the majority of whom were civilian casualties, according to human rights advocates.

The air strikes have also hit non-military targets, including markets.

"With the hospital destroyed, at least 200,000 people now have no access to life-saving medical care," Doctors Without Borders said in a statement on Tuesday.

The group's head of mission in Yemen, Mr Hassan Boucenine, said the attack was "another illustration of a complete disregard for civilians in Yemen, where bombings have become a daily routine".

He said the hospital was hit by several air strikes while about a dozen patients and staff members were inside. The operating theatre and maternity ward were struck. The staff evacuated the hospital between strikes. One staff member was slightly injured in the escape.

The air strikes then continued for at least two hours, leaving most of the facility in rubble, the group said.

Doctors Without Borders had supplied the hospital's coordinates to the coalition about six months ago and reconfirmed them every month, Mr Boucenine said. The group's logo was on the roof.

The hospital, in the Haydan district along the border with Saudi Arabia, was one of the few still operating in the northern province of Saada. The province has been heavily bombed by the coalition for months.

Doctors Without Borders said about 3,400 patients had been treated since the group began supporting the hospital in May.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2015, with the headline 'Saudi-led air strikes destroy Yemen hospital'. Print Edition | Subscribe