MSF internal investigation of the 15 August attack on Abs hospital - Yemen, Summary of findings

Report
from Médecins Sans Frontières
Published on 27 Sep 2016

About the investigation

This document summarises the findings from the internal investigation of the attack on the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)-supported Abs rural hospital in the Hajjah governorate in Yemen. A more detailed report will be released shortly. The objective of the investigation is to ascertain the facts surrounding the attack on the hospital and to establish whether the safety and security of staff and operations can be assured on the ground in Yemen. The investigation was carried out by an MSF humanitarian affairs adviser based at the organisation’s headquarters (HQ) in Barcelona, with critical support from past and present MSF staff involved in the Yemen operations at HQ and field level.
For the purpose of this internal review, 35 interviews were conducted with key MSF staff from the Yemen mission and the Abs hospital project, including direct eyewitnesses of the attack, and with patients who were at the hospital at the time of the airstrike. Additionally, relevant internal and external documentation, Yemen context analyses and photographic material were reviewed.

Introduction

On Monday 15 August at 3.40pm local time, the Abs rural hospital in Hajjah governorate in northwestern Yemen was hit by an airstrike killing 19 people, including one MSF staff member, and injuring 24 others. At the time of the attack, there were 23 patients in surgery, 25 in the maternity ward, 12 in paediatrics and 13 newborns at Abs hospital.

The airstrike constituted the fifth and deadliest attack on an MSF-supported medical service in Yemen in the past year, amidst countless attacks on other health facilities and services all over the country. The other four attacks on MSF-supported medical services were: Haydan hospital, in the Sa’ada governorate, on 26 October 2015; a mobile clinic in the al-Houban district in Taizz on 2 December 2015; Shiara hospital in Razeh, also in Sa’ada, on 10 January 2016; and an ambulance belonging to the Al Jamhoory hospital in Sa’ada town on 22 January 2016.