Yasir Hameed: The worsening humanitarian crisis in Taiz, Yemen

Yasir HameedThe clashes have been continuing on the outskirts of Taiz city. This report from the Yemen Post says that on the 8 June pro government gunmen broke into Al Thawra Hospital (the second main public hospital in Taiz, the first is Al Jumhory Hospital). The gunmen set up their positions in Al Thawra hospital from which to attack demonstrators. This is yet another serious crime and violation of human rights committed by the security forces there.

The Organising Committee of the Popular Youth Revolution (which is a group representing the Yemeni youth who are leading the demonstrations), has denounced that action and called for the hospital director to remove their “snipers” from the top of the building

On 8 June, the Yemeni Government news channels announced that the general condition of President Salih is stable and he is looking forward to returning to the country. This news has sparked barbaric waves of celebration in Sanaa. Thousands of pro government armed men and the military started shooting into the open sky (a sign of celebration in their tradition). This bizarre and ghastly celebration frightened people who thought that a major battle had broken out. The Yemeni government channels also reported that there have been fire works displays in Sanaa to celebrate the President’s recovery. Hundreds of people then went out into the streets to see the “fireworks.” There were some fireworks, but there were also thousands of bullets hitting the ground after being fired into the air. A large number of people were injured and rushed to hospital (report not in English). You can see more in a video from the Yemeni channel (Saba) with celebratory music in the background. You can see the bullets with few fire works in the sky.

Reuters has just published this report about the growing humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The food prices in Yemen continue to rise which threatens to raise the rates of malnutrition, and Yemen already has one of the highest rates of malnutrition in the world.

Security forces have also prevented medical personnel from evacuating dead bodies from the streets of Sanaa. The National Organisation for Defending Rights and Freedom (HOOD) has called on the security forces to let them dispose of some of the bodies that are in a visible state of decomposition in the streets of Al Hasaba. They have been left there since clashes between the government forces and gunmen belonging to Al Shaikh Al Ahmer broke out several days ago. The military forces and their snipers are preventing anyone from evacuating these bodies. I found a report on this website from Mareb press. Mareb press is an independent news website formed by independent Yemeni journalists. (Warning: very disturbing images within the report)

Videos from the hospitals in Taiz:

Although this short video dates back to April this year, it shows how terrible the situation is in a hospital in Taiz, and the difficulties the healthcare professionals are facing with such a crisis. I have worked in a hospital for three years and I know exactly how horrible it is when you receive a casualty and you do not have the essential tools for resuscitation. In this video, a seriously injured young man is rushed to the A&E. The doctor immediately tries to do an intubation to secure the airway. The other doctor besides him is shouting, “oxygen, suction, call the nurses to bring some.” But the young man dies within seconds.

There are also horrific scenes from inside Al Safwa hospital (the nearest hospital to “Freedom Square.”) This video was taken on the 29 May, two days prior to the burning of the demonstrator’s tents in Freedom Square in Taiz. These scenes have reminded me of the days I worked as a junior doctor in A&E in Al Wasiti hospital in Baghdad during the American led invasion of Iraq in April 2003.

In the video, you can see the chaos and blood everywhere, and the medical staff are trying to provide what they can despite the lack of any modern resuscitation equipment.

Yasir Hameed is a core psychiatry trainee, Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health NHS Trust