How Saudi Arabia tried to blame Doctors Without Borders after bombing its cholera treatment center in Yemen
Saudi Arabia tried to blame Doctors Without Borders after the US-backed Saudi coalition bombed the medical group’s cholera treatment center in Yemen. MSF says this is ridiculous and false.
by Ben Norton
The Saudi embassy in the United States pointed the finger at Doctors Without Borders after the US-backed Saudi coalition bombed the medical humanitarian group’s newly constructed cholera treatment center in Yemen.
The Saudi government circulated a misleading fax from a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) employee, to try to absolve itself of responsibility for the airstrike. I contacted MSF for clarification, and the organization said the fax is being misrepresented, and strongly condemned the “unacceptable attack on a medical facility.”
On June 11, the US-backed Saudi coalition waging war on Yemen bombed a cholera treatment center in the northwestern town of Abs. This medical facility, which had just been built, was operated by MSF, and was clearly marked on the roof with the logos of MSF and the Red Crescent.
The Saudi coalition has repeatedly targeted civilian infrastructure in its three-year war on Yemen, with more than one-third of its thousands of air raids hitting civilian sites. This has devastated the health system in the poorest country in the Middle East, unleashing the worst humanitarian catastrophe on Earth and the largest cholera outbreak in recorded history, with more than 1 million cases of the easily preventable disease in 2017 alone.
Early on June 13, the embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Washington, DC tweeted a photo of a fax from MSF’s administrator of communication and liaison in Djibouti. This document is dated June 11, and the Saudi embassy claimed it showed MSF “clearly admit that the unfortunate facility incident was due to their failure to update their coordinates per standard procedures.”
MSF told me this claim is false. The organization clarified that it gave the Saudi coalition the GPS coordinates for its cholera treatment center at least 12 times in writing, and the coalition “acknowledged receipt of these coordinates in writing at least nine times.”