The international medical humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders (MSF) announced today the closure of its humanitarian project in Ad Dhale governorate, southern Yemen. This has been an extremely difficult decision for MSF to take.

The decision to close is a result of repeated attacks and threats of violence on the medical facility, health staff and most recently, on MSF’s residence in the town of Ad Dhale.

MSF, Doctors Without Borders, Yemen, Project closure
Nabat Mohamad, Health promoter is giving a session about Diphtheria in the waiting room of Medical Centre, supported by MSF in Al-Azariq. Photo: MSF

“Humanitarian organisations must be able to provide the much needed medical humanitarian assistance without being threatened with violence. This has not been respected in the Ad Dhale town,” says Ton Berg, MSF Head of Mission in Yemen. “There have been multiple security incidents directly targeting patients, staff and MSF supported medical facilities in the area. After this series of serious incidents, we are left with no choice but to close all medical and humanitarian activities in Ad Dhale governorate.”

“Our activities have been suspended several times in the past years. In the latest example in October 2018, our staff house in Ad Dhale was attacked twice in less than a week. In spite of these suspensions and constant negotiations with all stakeholders, security incidents and threats in the town of Ad Dhale continue. With such a threat to safety, MSF therefore sees no possibility of providing quality impartial healthcare,” Berg added.  

MSf, Doctors Without Borders, Yemen, Project closure
In Patients Department, at Alnasr General Hospital was supported by MSF in Ad Dhale. Photo: MSF

The closure of activities will include stopping the support to the four MSF supported health facilities in Al Nasr Hospital in Ad Dhale town, Al Salaam Primary Health Care Centre (PHCC) in Qatabah, Thee Jalal PHCC in Al Azariq, and Damt PHCC.

MSF was one of the few medical organisations delivering humanitarian assistance to the community in Ad Dhale. MSF acknowledges the impact this closure will have on access to healthcare in the governorate, and that it will deprive thousands of Yemenis of much needed humanitarian and medical assistance.

MSF, Doctors Without Borders, Yemen, Project closure
Nahed Ali Marzouk, 30 years old, she is a nurse and doctor’s assistant at the Medical Center supported by MSF Al-Azariq. Photo: MSF

“We deeply regret that it has come to this point. This has been a very difficult decision for MSF to take, but one that at this point is unavoidable for the safety and security of our staff,” Berg said.

MSF has been working in Ad Dhale since 2012 supporting the provision of free medical care to the people of Ad Dhale, Qatabah, Al Azariq and Damt districts. Over time and through conflict, epidemics, and widespread medical needs, MSF’s support has enabled these health facilities to treat more than 400,000 patients across the governorate.

MSF remains committed to supporting the Yemeni people and provides support to more than 12 hospitals and health centres across 11 governorates.