Two men carrying another man on a hospital stretcher

© ICRC

Sick and wounded people in the city of Taiz are facing a terrible reality – that their trip to hospital might kill them.

The few hospitals still open in the conflict-hit city are treating many injured people. But the streets are being hit by shells so travelling to hospital is dangerous. And it’s not just the patients who are suffering – medical workers are coming under attack.

Red Cross spokesman Kedir Awol Omar  said: “During the past two weeks, paramedics have had to put themselves in harm’s way, working their way through heavy ground fighting, airstrikes and snipers to reach the wounded. This is unacceptable.”

Across Yemen, aid workers are also at risk. On September 2 two Red Cross staff were killed when a gunman fired on their convoy as it travelled between the cities of Saada and Sana’a.

Antoine Grande, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Yemen, said: “Our thoughts and sympathies are with the families and loved ones of our colleagues.”

Help must be allowed through

The Red Cross has faced serious problems getting lifesaving medical and surgical supplies to hospitals in Taiz, which are running short.

There has been increased fighting in the city in recent weeks, with indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas. Essential infrastructure is being destroyed.

The head of the ICRC in the city, Olivier Chassot, said: “We call on the parties on the ground in Taiz to allow the safe passage of ambulances, medical workers and aid workers so that lives can be saved and the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance can be made possible.”

People look at a damaged house

©ICRC/A Mahyoub

Breaking the laws of war?

Under international humanitarian law, parties to a conflict must take all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Medical facilities and personnel must also be protected at all times. Medical personnel in particular must be allowed safe passage to the sick and wounded.