Medecins San Frontieres (MSF) on Wednesday rejected a report by the Saudi-led coalition-appointedJoint Incident Assessment Team(JIAT) on coalition airstrike on MSF facility in Abs District of the Yemeni northwestern governorate of Hajjah.
At a press conference on 16 January, "the JIAT madevarious unacceptable and contradictory claims that portray MSF as responsible for, rather than a victim of, the bombing," the human group stated in a press release.
The Geneva-based organization demanded "that the results of the investigation be reviewed and false allegations against MSF be withdrawn," calling on "armed parties to the conflict" to abide by the international humanitarian law, under which "medical facilities are protected and may not be lawfully targeted."
"With only half of health facilities in Yemen fully functional, more than 11 million people in acute need [for assistance] and outbreaks of cholera and other easily preventable diseases occurring regularly, access to MSF medical facilities is crucial for the civilian population."
"MSF is dismayed by several findings of the team appointed by the Saudi and Emirati-led coalition to investigate the bombing of an MSF cholera treatment center (CTC) in Abs on 11 June 2018."
Yemen has been racked by an armed conflict that broke out after the Iranian-backed Houthis had ousted the internationally recognized government late in 2014.
The conflict escalated after a Saudi-led coalition intervened militarily in the country in March 2015 to reinstate the government of President Hadi,leaving more than two thirds of the 28-million population in need for a type of humanitarian aid and immediate protection.
MSF criticized the coalition report that while "recognizes that the coalition was partly responsible for the bombing, it fails to shed full light on – and attribute clear responsibilities for – yet another attack on humanitarian and medical work in Yemen. Instead, the report seeks to shift responsibility for the attack away from the coalition, claiming that MSF did not take the appropriate measures to prevent the bombing.
"The report claims, for example, that MSF failed to display a distinctive emblem on the facility and did not explicitly request that the facility be placed on a no-strike list. In fact, the compound containing CTC had three distinctive logos displayed, while MSF shared its location at least 12 times in writing with the correct coalition authorities.
"Under international humanitarian law, medical facilities are protected and may not be lawfully targeted even if they are marked, or if the geographical locations have not been shared with warring parties," said Teresa Sancristoval, operations director for MSF. "It is the sole responsibility of armed parties to the conflict to proactively take all necessary measures to ensure that protected facilities are not attacked. The onus cannot be on civilians and medical staff."
The MSF release added that "while no staff or patients were killed in the attack, damage to the newly constructed center rendered the CTC non-functional, and incapable of receiving patients from among the population of more than million people MSF serves in the area.
"MSF facilities have now been hit five times by coalition airstrikes since March 2015," the group said.