Since March 2015, Yemen has been ravaged by armed conflict between the incumbent administration headed by President Abdrahbuh Mansour and the religious-political Houthi insurgency, sometimes linked to terrorist organization Al-Qaeda. The US had prioritized its anti-terrorism efforts in the Middle East following the rise of Musab al-Zarqawi (the founder of ISIS). But, in becoming preoccupied with hunts for other high-profile terrorist targets, the US let the internal socio-political state of Yemen fall to the wayside. To make up for past neglect, the Obama administration began backing Yemen’s Mansour administration and implementing “strategic” bombings. Today, Yemen is neck deep in a war they did not ask for, facing an enemy that is not identifiable.
On August 15, 2016, “Abs Hospital, located in the country’s Hajjah governorate and supported by the international medical charity, was hit at 3:45 p.m. local time.” According to a statement released by Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières [MSF]), nine individuals were killed on impact, including an MSF volunteer. Teresa Sancristóval, the MSF emergency program manager, claims that all military authorities were well informed regarding the GPS coordinates of the humanitarian hospital site, but failed to acknowledge it when planning the strike. There is still no information released on behalf of who was targeted by the strike.
In a public statement released after the attack took place that day, Sancristóval brings attention to the blatant disregard both belligerents have for civilian lives. This hospital bombing was not an anomalous attack, but MSF reports that there have four other attacks on known MSF facilities within the last 12 months. “MSF calls on all parties, and particularly the Saudi-led coalition responsible for the attack, to guarantee that such attacks do not happen again.” Keep in mind that this statement deflects blame from the US, despite our not so subtle aid of the Saudi coalition that carried out the attack. Nevertheless, Sancristóval desperately implores and indirectly addresses both the US and Saudis that the injured continue to be killed “while seeking medical care.” Sancristóval directly states that the Yemen’s civil war is “a disproportionate burden on civilians” due to a still growing noncombatant death toll.
Few corporate media sources have covered this bombing, but even independent news coverage is limited. One article from the Washington Post presents the same statistical information as the MSF self-report, but there is more information included about the Saudi government’s attempt at covering up the “accidental” bombing. The Washington Post even went as far to contact MSF itself for commentary. The New York Times however, provided completely inaccurate statistical data, and no MSF officials were contacted for further validation of the information.
Nonetheless, corporate news coverage of the Yemen MSF bombing is limited to August 15, 2016, as the topic is never discussed in future stories. Independent news continues to cover the issue, with the Nation having published a story on November 3, 2016.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF), “Yemen: Airstrike on MSF-Supported Hospital Kills at Least 11, Wounds at Least 19,” MSF USA Doctors Without Borders, August 15, 2016, http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/article/yemen-airstrike-msf-supported-hospital-kills-least-11-wounds-least-19.
Glenn Greenwald, “U.S. and U.K. Continue to Actively Participate in Saudi War Crimes, Targeting of Yemeni Civilians,” The Intercept, October 10, 2016, https://theintercept.com/2016/10/10/u-s-and-u-k-continue-to-actively-participate-in-saudi-war-crimes-targeting-of-yemeni-civilians/.
Michael T. Klare, “The United States May Be Guilty of War Crimes in Yemen, The Nation, November 3, 2016, https://www.thenation.com/article/the-united-states-may-be-guilty-of-war-crimes-in-yemen/.
Student Researcher: Hannah Kim (Syracuse University)
Faculty Evaluator: Jeff Simmons (Syracuse University)