Saada, Yemen — In the latest of a mounting number of similar cases, a Saudi airstrike killed at least eighteen people on Thursday — including a Doctors Without Borders/Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF)-affiliated ambulance that had just arrived on the scene to aid victims from a previous strike.
It should be noted the Saudi-led coalition has been accused multiple times, including less than two weeks ago, of employing U.S.-made weapons — including internationally-banned cluster bombs — to attack civilians. The U.S., itself, has been waging a heavy drone campaign in the war-ravaged nation — two people were killed on Tuesday by a U.S. drone — and a report in September proved U.S. drones have been responsible for more civilian deaths than even al-Qaeda.
According to the MSF press release:
“In this latest instance of an attack on a medical facility or medical personnel in Yemen, the ambulance was responding to an earlier bombing in Dhayan. Just as it arrived and people were gathering to assist the victims of the initial bombing, the same site was hit again with another airstrike, wounding many people. A third strike was then launched, hitting the ambulance and killing its driver.”
Dhayan, according to MSF, is situated about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the city of Sa’dah, and close to another MSF-supported facility, Shiara Hospital — which was also struck in an attack on January 10 that killed six people.
According to the New York Times, Muhammed Hajr, director of Jumhuriyah Hospital in the Saada Governate, said Thursday’s airstrike killed everyone inside the ambulance, as well as at least 12 others who had arrived on scene to provide help.
“This latest loss of a colleague is devastating, and it demonstrates the ruthlessness with which healthcare is coming under attack in Yemen,” said Teresa Sancristoval, MSF Emergency Coordinator, in the organization’s press statement. “People there are being subjected to this kind of violence on a daily basis. No one, not even healthcare workers, is being spared.”
In fact, so many MSF and other healthcare facilities have been under fire in Yemen, the worrying pattern seems more like intentional targeting — especially in light of the targeted attack on an MSF Hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan on October 3 that killed 42 people. Just over three months ago, an alarming report revealed over 100 healthcare facilities had been bombed by the U.S.-backed coalition in Yemen.
MSF has repeatedly called for caution concerning its workers in the war-torn region. It cannot be overemphasized that the humanitarian organization regularly updates all fighting parties about the GPS coordinates of the facilities it operates so there can be no mistakes. Though, perhaps, an occasional mistake could conceivably occur, this tally is shamefully revealing for the U.S.- and Saudi-backed coalition in Yemen.
The following footage shows the airstrike, and therefore will be disturbing to some viewers.