© Florian SERIEX/MSF
14 Feb 18
Arunn Jegan Arunn Jegan AustralianEmergency CoordinatorBangladesh

Yemen: On an average day, we hear around 5 explosions per minute - Taiz is in war

Arunn Jegan is an Australian project coordinator who has worked with Médecins Sans Frontières since 2016. Arunn has worked for MSF in Bangladesh, during the Cox’s Bazaar Emergency, and recently started his mission in Taiz, Yemen.

“I just arrived in Taiz, Yemen where we support multiple hospitals on both sides of the frontlines. Although I read in the media before coming here how dire the humanitarian situation is, in my first week I really realize how desperate the situation is and how many challenges the population face on a daily basis”. 

On the day of my arrival to Taiz, Yemen, on 24 January 2018, violence escalated along all the front-lines around Taiz city and the last few days have been extremely heavy. Sadly, this is the daily life for the people here. 

Overflowing with wounded

Over the last 3 days we have treated over 117 war wounded and the number continues to grow as we speak. As the conflict intensified, the emergency rooms and the operational theatres were over-flowing with wounded receiving approximately 70 patients on one day. We treated people with bullet wounds, shrapnel and landmines; it was an extremely shocking scene to arrive to. The hospital staff have been working continuously these past few days, some with very little sleep, while they attempt to stabilize the wounded. Some made it and some didn’t, the scenes of despair were difficult to observe. The requests coming from the hospital for blood donations and body bags make me aware of the harsh reality the people of Taiz are living in for years now.

A mother of five told us that her youngest son (16yr) was wounded by shrapnel while playing football. She had to sell her Jewelry to pay for the transport—jewelry she was saving for the future of her children, rather than to save her children. Her son eventually made his way to our facility and is in a stable condition. 

Proud of my colleagues

In Yemen there has been constant fighting since the escalation of the conflict in 2015, unfortunately the situation has not much improved since the first bullets were fired 3 years ago. People in the city are cautious to leave their houses, but our staff are committed to treating the wounded, and arrive to the office with resolve. I’m proud to be associated with them.

I hear the continuous sounds of gunfire and shelling from the frontlines that are very close to our medical facilities, which places extra pressure on the staff, both mentally and physically. On an average day this week, we hear around 5 explosions per minute.

Hakim, one our staff members told his children to stay inside and not leave the house, however his daughter asked him “then where are you going every day?”, its stories like this that give you a glimpse of the daily challenges and urgency of this situation.

I am worried about the increased medical needs and the security of all medical staff and facilities. MSF continuously calls on all parties to respect the work we do and show that by keeping medical facilities safe and grant access for all those who need medical care. In addition, the impartial and neutral mandate of MSF and that our medical services are open to all wounded regardless of their affiliation. At the same time I hope that other humanitarian actors acknowledge the needs in Taiz in specific and Yemen in general to and start increasing humanitarian aid in these areas. At present, Taiz is one of the most intense conflict zones in the country and the humanitarian needs are extremely high. 

MSF remains one of the few medical organizations currently working in Taiz. MSF has been working in Taiz on both sides of the frontlines for two years and the current fighting makes us realise, once again, how important it is to be present in this location. MSF remains committed to working in Yemen and supporting the population in need.