Civilian Suffering Continues To Worsen In Yemen

Civilian Suffering Continues To Worsen In Yemen

7:08pm May 10, 2015

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



And for a view from the ground in Yemen, we're turning to Teresa Sancristoval, a program manager with Doctors Without Borders. Right now, she's in the Yemeni capital, Sana'a. We reached her over Skype.

TERESA SANCRISTOVAL: Today has been quite an intense day of bombing, and the situation in Sana'a is particularly worrying in what it concerns to water. In Sana'a, you can see very big queues for gas, very big queues for water. People is trying to do their best to get the water. But we have reports of people stealing during the night and the water tanks in the roofs because they really need water, and they don't how to get it. So it's not only about the price. It's about the availability of the - of the water, and it's quite complicated.

RATH: Three days ago, Sancristoval and her colleagues were working at a hospital in the northern city of Sa'dah. Patients were being cared for in the maternity unit, the safest place in the hospital.

SANCRISTOVAL: I have real admiration for the doctors, nurses, midwives and all the service. They are there since one month, literally living in the hospital. They put their families in a safe place, and they are dedicated to the patients.

RATH: Then the Saudi-led coalition escalated its bombing campaign.

SANCRISTOVAL: Friday, it was quite an intense bombing in the night. And in the morning, there was an intense bombing in the city of Sa'dah. When a big bomb falls 200 meters from a place, then everything moves. But the hospital itself has never been attack.

RATH: Can you tell us about the hospital where you and your Doctors Without Borders colleagues were? The hospital in Sa'dah - what were the conditions like there?

SANCRISTOVAL: On Thursday, we have a very, very nearby bomb. Some of the women thrown to the floor - they were frightened. They were really, really in a stress situation that is not the best for a delivery. And we have to do a little bit of support to them, because they were really, really afraid. To give you an example, on Friday, seven women came to deliver. They were in labor. They hear the bombing, and they decided to go to a safer place to deliver. They didn't feel that they can stay in the city with this level of bombing, so five of them left.

RATH: And do you have any idea where they went?

SANCRISTOVAL: I guess to their villages or to somewhere that they consider more safe, a little bit outside of the city. And they will do home delivery with - I don't know - whoever can help them in delivery.

RATH: We've heard a lot of residents have had to flee since the original bombing campaign began in March, so who is remaining there? Who's left in the province?

SANCRISTOVAL: It looks like there is nobody there. It looks like everybody has escaped from the town. Yesterday, when I left Sa'dah, what we saw was quite a number of people leaving by foot. There was not public transport, and I guess not everybody has a car. And even those that they have a car, I'm not sure that they have the capacity to buy fuel or to find fuel. But it's quite difficult to know the situation because, to be honest, we were not able to do a lot of movement in the city.

RATH: And when people can get out, if they are able to get the fuel in spite of the shortage or overcome the other ways, other things that are keeping them out, where are they evacuating to?

SANCRISTOVAL: We saw the population going to - towards 'Amran governorate - that is another governorate - the neighbor governorate of Sa'dah. Some of the patients - some of them they wanted to go to Sana'a. Now it's really difficult to make a choice for someone in Yemen because bombing is everywhere. The choices for the people are very, very limited.

RATH: Teresa Sancristoval is a program manager for Doctors Without Borders in Yemen. She's in the capital Sana'a. Thanks very much for speaking with us.

SANCRISTOVAL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Support your
public radio station