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On 2nd of August 2018 at approximately 17:15 pm dozens of people were killed in an attack on Al Thawarah hospital in Hodeidah city. Action Against Hunger runs Hodeida’s largest diarrhea treatment center (DTC) located on the hospital grounds. The explosion occurred roughly 10 meters from the hospital entrance, and 20-25 meters from the DTC. Our staff report that the hospital staff is still struggling to cope with the large number of injuries. Furthermore, the attack has caused widespread panic among the already traumatised population of Hodeidah.
Al Thawarah hospital is the main and one of the few functioning hospitals in the Hodeidah governorate where many civilians come to seek health care on a daily basis. ACF’s diarrhea treatment center has a capacity of 100 beds, and as such crucial to treat the steadily increasing number of acute watery diarrhea (AWD) and suspected cholera cases. The center itself has not been damaged in the explosion, however the explosion has caused widespread panic among the patients and the staff. 23 patients, including confirmed cholera cases, were inside the center at the time of the attack.
In order for Action Against Hunger and other relief organisations to be able to stem acute diarrhea and the cholera outbreak and save lives of people who contracted those diseases, the center needs to remain fully operational and free from any military activities. The Al Thawarah hospital and the DTC are clearly marked civilian facilities, and as such enjoy full protection under the international humanitarian law (IHL).
"Nous ne pouvons pas déplacer les patients souffrant de choléra car cela risquerait de contaminer et de propager la maladie à travers la ville."
Stephanie Lord, the Field Coordinator for Hodeida and Hajjah says: « Patients are now scared and understandably some tried to leave the center, and some actually left, which implies the risk that they will soon be out of our reach, therewith further exacerbating the probability that many more might get contaminated. »
In the midst of a military offensive and a breakdown in all basic services, Almahwat area of Hodeida, where the Al Thawarah hospital is located, has recently been the target of a number of airstrikes, causing fear and more suffering among the remaining population in the city. Furthermore, local and international organisations are increasingly struggling to deliver aid and services, as the humanitarian space is shrinking and the possibilities to provide a safe environment for civilians to receive necessary help are decreasing. The hospital is one of a small number of buildings that is de-conflicted, and as such needs to remain a safe haven for people who seek basic health care services.
“We cannot treat acute watery diarrhea and cholera outbreaks properly under these circumstances, and while civilians are being targeted by the attacks on a de-conflicted hospital,” said Valentina Ferrante, Action Against Hunger’s country director for Yemen, and added: “This site should have been omitted as a target by all parties. Belligerents must abide by their obligations under IHL so that we can continue with our work, and that civilians have an unimpeded access to one of the few facilities that remain in the city and serve their basic human needs and rights”
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