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Doctors Without Borders leaves north Yemen because of 'indiscriminate bombings'

The medical charity says it can't guarantee the safety of its people from airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition.
Varios civiles inspeccionan una casa destruida en Saná (Imagen por Yahya Arhab/EPA)

Doctors Without Borders, one of the largest medical charities, has decided to evacuate its staff from all six hospitals it supports in northern Yemen, because it cannot guarantee their safety from "indiscriminate bombings" by the Saudi-led coalition.

The group, also known by its French acronym MSF, said it made the decision after Monday's attack on Abs Hospital in Yemen's Hajjah Governorate that killed 19 people, including one MSF staff member. The departure of MSF doctors and staffers will leave northern Yemen in an even more dire humanitarian situation.

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Since the suspension of peace talks in Kuwait between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi forces fighting against it, the bombing campaign has intensified. MSF said it has lost confidence in the coalition's ability to avoid such fatal attacks. The Abs attack is the fourth on an MSF facility in under a year, and the deadliest thus far.

Related: Another hospital bombed in Yemen by Saudi coalition, aid group says

The charity claims to have always clearly communicated the GPS coordinates of the facilities it supports to the Saudi coalition, and demands that an independent investigation be carried out into the attacks.

"Coalition officials repeatedly state that they honor international humanitarian law, yet this attack shows a failure to control the use of force and to avoid attacks on hospitals full of patients," the group said. "MSF is neither satisfied nor reassured by the Saudi-led coalition's statement that this attack was a mistake."

MSF blamed Houthis for "indiscriminate attacks" as well. "MSF condemns the way all involved actors – the S-LC, the Houthi and their allies – are conducting this war and carrying out indiscriminate attacks without any respect for civilians," it said.

Saudi officials have insisted that their warplanes and those of allied nations, which are getting air-to-air refueling and targeting support from the US, have targeted only military sites.

Since the conflict started 17 months ago, MSF — one of the few international organizations operating in Yemen — has had a presence in 11 hospitals and health care centers and has provided support to 18 hospitals around the country.

The humanitarian situation in Yemen continues to deteriorate. There are currently more than 2.5 million internally displaced people in Yemen, with a health service that struggles to cope and intermittent food and water supplies.