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Key Yemen hospital on the brink of closure as airstrikes intensify on Sana’a

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Staff at a hospital which now serves an estimated three million people in and around the Yemeni capital have told Save the Children that it faces imminent closure, putting the lives of thousands of children significantly at risk.

Critical fuel shortages and a lack of medical supplies could force the Al Sabeen Hospital to shut its doors within 48 hours, even as airstrikes on Sana’a by the Saudi-led coalition intensify.

The hospital, which Save the Children supports, is the main healthcare facility for children and pregnant women in the area. Before the crisis it was reliant on Hodeida port for 90 percent of its imports, but since the beginning of a de-facto blockade on the country, supplies have dried up.

Al Sabeen’s Deputy Manager, Halel Al Bahri, said the hospital had entirely run out of IV fluid, anesthetic, blood transfusion tests, Valium to treat seizures and ready-prepared therapeutic food for severely malnourished children.

Even more worryingly, they only have enough black market fuel to run the electricity generators for another two days. Should they be forced to close hundreds of children currently admitted will stop receiving treatment.

Mr Al Bahri said: “We are coordinating closely with the other functioning hospitals in the city, sharing our stocks so that everyone has a bit of everything. But everyone is running low now and there isn’t enough to go around.”

“The situation is absolutely critical. We don’t have time to wait for stocks and fuel to come in. If this hospital closes, children and women will die. The numbers of those who die will be much higher than those being killed by the bombs and the fighting.”

Across Yemen, 15.2 million are lacking access to basic health care, an increase of 40% since March. More than half a million children are expected to suffer severe acute malnutrition this year, and there has been a 150% increase in hospital admissions for malnutrition since March.

Edward Santiago, Save the Children’s Country Director in Yemen, said: “Civilians are paying the price for the war in Yemen, which over the course of five months has plunged the country into a devastating humanitarian crisis.”

“The ongoing violence and de-facto blockade means we are struggling to get sufficient aid to those who need it most. The closure of Al Sabeen Hospital would be absolutely devastating for children in Sana’a and the surrounding areas and it’s just the tip of the iceberg, with hundreds of hospitals and health facilities in Yemen shut or running limited services.

"It’s crucial that enough medicines, supplies and fuel are able to get in to the country, otherwise the number of children dying from treatable illnesses is only going to get bigger.”

ENDS

Mark Kaye, Advocacy Director for Save the Children Yemen, is in Sana'a and available for interview today.

Please contact 0207 012 6841 or email media@savethechildren.org.uk

Or+44 (0)7831 650409 (out of hours)

E: media@savethechildren.org.uk

Notes to editors:

Save the Children have distributed vital medical supplies, including surgical sets, antiseptics, gloves, dressings, bandages and tourniquets to Al Sabeen Hospital. We are currently in the process of sourcing emergency fuel so that the hospital can continue operating for the next few weeks.