One air raid every ten days on hospitals, clinics, wells and water tanks in Yemen

One air raid every ten days on hospitals, clinics, wells and water tanks in Yemen

  • COVID-19 isolation centres reportedly hit in March and April

  • Yemen’s vital infrastructure in the cross hairs of war 

Medical and water infrastructure in Yemen has been hit during air raids almost 200 times since the conflict escalated more than five years ago, Oxfam said today, as the country continues to battle its outbreak of COVID-19.

The Oxfam analysis of information on airstrikes collected by the Yemen Data Project, revealed that this is equivalent to one air raid every ten days during the conflict - affecting essential services such as hospitals, clinics, ambulances, water drills, tanks and trucks.  

Arms exporting countries have continued to profit from the sale of billions of dollars-worth of munitions to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners throughout the course of the war in Yemen, which is now in its fifth year; despite knowing that some of these arms could be used in violation of international humanitarian law. The conflict escalated in March 2015 when a Saudi-led coalition backed the internationally recognised government against the Houthis

Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland’s Chief Executive, said: “Half a decade of war has decimated Yemen’s medical facilities, with only half fully functional. While other life-saving and vital infrastructure like water tanks and wells have also been caught in the cross hairs of this seemingly endless conflict. The United Nations estimates that 20.5 million people – over four times the population of Ireland – need help to get clean water at a time when that basic human right has never been more essential due to COVID-19. This pandemic has created a catastrophic triple threat for the people of Yemen already facing sever hunger and cholera. Our colleagues in Yemen warned last month that thousands of people could be dying from undetected cases of cholera because COVID-19 has overwhelmed the country’s remaining health facilities. 

“Ireland has previously shown support for the cause of justice and accountability in Yemen, calling for the international community to respond, including by working together to bring an immediate end to the conflict that is destroying so many lives and crippling the country’s economy and infrastructure. That call is all the more urgent as hospitals, clinics, water tanks and wells continue to damaged and demolished, all while the number of people in desperate need remains shamefully high and ever-growing.”  

Yemen reported its first case of COVID-19 in April. As of 17th August, 1,869 cases and 530 deaths have been confirmed but it’s thought the true number of people affected is much higher than this. 

Since the confirmation of cases of COVID-19 in Yemen in April, Oxfam has refocused its work to respond to the pandemic - working on rehabilitating the water supply to one of the main hospitals in Aden, distributing hygiene kits for the most vulnerable households, and trucking in clean water to camps for people who have had to flee their homes. Across Yemen, Oxfam are training community health volunteers to spread the word about the virus and the importance of hygiene and hand washing. 

Muhsin Siddiquey, Oxfam’s Yemen Country Director said: “Lives aren’t just lost when the bombs fall, but also, during the weeks, months or years it takes for hospitals and wells to be rebuilt. 

“The international community cannot continue to turn a blind eye to Yemen’s suffering which is being fuelled by international arms sales.”



Caroline Reid | | +353 (0) 87 912 3165

Alice Dawson-Lyons | | +353 (0) 83 198 1869 

Notes to the Editor

The Yemen Data Project recorded 86 air raids on medical facilities and 107 on water tanks, trucks, drills and dams between 26March 2015 and 30 June 2020.

The Civilian Impact Monitoring Project (CIMP), which collects reports of all incidents of armed violence with a direct civilian impact, has recorded 115 occasions when medical or water facilities have been hit in the last two and a half years. This includes airstrikes, shelling and small arms fire. 102 civilians died and 185 were injured in these incidents.

CIMP recorded 115 incidents involving medical or water infrastructure between 1 January 2018 and 31 July 2020.

CIMP received reports of airstrikes on three quarantine centres – one in Saleef district of Hudaydah governorate in late March and two in Al Maljim district of Bayda governorate in early April. 

So much damage has been done to civilian infrastructure, rebuilding it is likely to cost tens of billions of dollars. The UNDP has cited a 2016 damage and needs assessment which estimated the cost of damage to physical infrastructure in Yemen to be between US $4–US $5 billion, including US $79–US $97 million to water, sanitation and hygiene. 

The UNDP report into the economic cost of the war is available here.  

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