Since Thursday evening, Yemen’s port city of Aden has been gripped by intense fighting between opposing armed groups. In less than 24 hours, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) treated 119 people in its hospital and the wounded continue to pour in. The airport is closed, and life in the city has ground to a halt.
"Most of the wounded are civilians trapped by the fighting and probably victims of mortar fire or stray bullets," said Caroline Seguin, MSF’s head of programs in Yemen. "Yesterday we treated a woman who had a bullet wound and she was eight months pregnant. At least five people were dead on arrival at the hospital, one of them a child." Sixty-two of the people treated by MSF required emergency inpatient care.
"The city’s a battlefield. We can hear the sound of heavy weapon fire and tanks are moving around the streets," Seguin said. “Our hospital is stretched to the limit. Our teams are working around the clock to take care of the many people wounded by the fighting, and we can’t get anyone in to replace them. The city’s paralyzed and some personnel aren’t able to get to the hospital because the fighting’s really fierce and the roads into the city are cut off. Given all of this, we’re worried we won’t be able to get supplies through to the hospital."
The fighting also threatens the port of Aden, the only fully functional port in the country, through which imported goods and some humanitarian aid—including MSF’s supplies—are brought into Yemen.
"If the situation continues to deteriorate...there’s also a risk of prices being impacted and, consequently, people’s access to basic essentials when there’s already inflation," said Seguin.
Opened in Aden in 2012, MSF’s hospital is in the center of the city. "Despite the fighting, the hospital is still open and fully operational," Seguin said. "The teams are continuing to take care of the dozens of people wounded in this new wave of violence that has erupted in Aden."
MSF previously cared for an influx of wounded patients on August 1, after attacks in two of the city’s districts. Sixteen people were admitted to the hospital.