MSF halts work in Yemen's Aden after patient kidnapped, killed

Doctors Without Borders suspends medical admissions in Aden after armed men storm its hospital and abduct patient.

    The entrance of MSF's trauma hospital in Aden, Yemen, on December 16, 2018 [Courtesy: Agnes Varraine-Leca/MSF]
    The entrance of MSF's trauma hospital in Aden, Yemen, on December 16, 2018 [Courtesy: Agnes Varraine-Leca/MSF]

    Doctors Without Borders, known by its French initials MSF, has suspended work at its hospital in Yemen's second city of Aden after the kidnapping and killing of one of its patients.

    In a statement on Thursday, the medical relief organisation said a group of armed men threatened guards and staff at its emergency trauma hospital in Aden and abducted a patient who was due to undergo surgery.

    He was found dead on a street in the city's al-Mansoura district.

    "Following this incident, we have no choice but to suspend the admission of patients until further notice," says Caroline Seguin, MSF's programme manager for Yemen.

    "Over recent weeks, the hospital has been functioning at full capacity, particularly the emergency room and intensive care unit, following an escalation of violence in the city."

    Yemen has been gripped by a civil war between the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is also backed by a Saudi-led military coalition and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. 

    The four-year war has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed the impoverished country to the brink of famine. Many of the country's hospitals have been damaged or destroyed and the country is heavily dependent on aid groups for medical care.

    MSF said the kidnapping on Tuesday was just one among a number of threats and security incidents, involving both patients and staff, since the start of the year at the Al Sadaqah Hospital in Aden.

    "We are extremely worried by the deteriorating situation inside Aden and its consequences for our medical activities, as incidents like these endanger the lives of both patients and staff," said Seguin.

    A police commander in Aden, who requested anonymity as he was not authorised to brief the press, told the AFP news agency that the patient was hospitalised at the MSF clinic after being wounded in a battle between rival armed groups.

    His body was found on the grounds of a local school, the commander said.

    The southern port city of Aden has served as the seat of Yemen's beleaguered government since early 2015, when Hadi fled the capital Sanaa in the face of the Houthi takeover.

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    In March 2015, as the Houthis closed in on Aden and Hadi went into exile, a Saudi-led military coalition intervened in support of the government, triggering what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis

    The government exercises only limited authority, even in areas that have been retaken from the rebels.

    In November, MSF announced it had suspended its work in Daleh, a region inland from the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, in the face of multiple security incidents directly targeting patients and staff.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies