Medical Facilities Under Fire

Key FindingsInvestigationsData Setmethodologyعربي

Medical Facilites Under Fire

Key findings

Medical facilities and health care in Yemen have been systematically targeted by all parties to the conflict as a strategy of war and in clear contravention of international humanitarian law. Hospitals have been attacked with airstrikes and artillery shells, medical workers have been kidnapped and killed and medical facilities have been commandeered for use as military assets.

In this database, Yemeni Archive has documented 133 attacks on medical facilities and health care in Yemen since April 2014. All 133 unique incidents (based on 1,755 observations) of attacks on medical facilities include violations committed against medical facilities and/or other health workers, who are specifically offered protections under International Humanitarian Law. This process necessitated archiving and verifying 1,755 videos, articles, and other reports from 418 sources that documented attacks on hospitals, health centers and medical centers — 596 Facebook posts, 526 Twitter posts form 342 sources, 159 YouTube videos from 76 sources, and 474 websites and news articles from 164 sources. This database has been made available to support justice and accountability efforts for human rights violations in Yemen.

It should be noted that this database may under represent the extent to which medical facilities have been targeted - Yemeni Archive has included only incidents for which documentation has been able to be identified and independently verified. While we have sought to be detailed and transparent in the presentation process, we have taken into account the need to protect those presenting these relevant documents. Taking these interests seriously, some of the content deemed sensitive has withheld to protect the security of our sources.

The added value of this database is that documentation is independently verified and structured into a standardised and searchable data ontology. Additional descriptive information is provided to support the research of journalists, lawyers, human rights monitors and investigators for reporting, advocacy and accountability.

This database shows:
  • The impact of the attacks on medical facilities as a result of airstrikes and rocket attacks by various parties to the conflict.
  • Civilian victims of the airstrikes, including children and women.
  • Remnants of ammunition used in the attacks allegedly by the Saudi-led Arab coalition forces and Houthi forces.
  • Witness testimony of attacks on medical facilities, in which surviving medical staff and civilians testify through video interviews.
  • Rescue operations by humanitarian groups to assist the victims of alleged attacks against medical facilities.

About Yemeni Archive

Yemeni Archive is a civil society initiative that has been documenting the conflict in Yemen since 2018. To date, over 499,649 videos and posts to social media have been located and preserved. Like many monitoring organisations, Yemeni Archive is unable to travel extensively within Yemen to investigate each and every attack. Relying on a network of journalists and video makers is essential to monitor, document and report on crimes committed in Yemen and preserve these pieces of evidence for justice and accountability initiatives.

Using the database

Yemeni Archive has created the database for use by human rights workers, Yemeni observers, NGOs and INGOs and lawyers for advocacy purposes and in their quest to hold perpetrators of attacks accountable.

Please note that much of the database’s content contains graphic images, and users are advised to take precautions when reviewing materials.

However, while all efforts have been made to provide a thorough understanding of incidents and attacks, some information has been withheld to protect the security of our sources.

To provide Yemeni Archive with new evidence or information, flag a mistake or share any questions or concerns, please contact

The Data

This database contains 11.41 GB of documentation of 133 attacks on hospitals and medical facilities in Yemen during the 2014-2019 period. This data comes from 418 sources made up of individual citizen journalists, local and international media groups, as well as NGOs and civil society organisations. It is important to note that many if not all of these sources are partisan, and thus require caution with regards to their claims.

A total of 1755 relevant videos, posts, and publications documenting attacks on hospitals and medical facilities were identified, the majority of which were published on social media pages. Yemeni Archive has not made all content documenting attacks on medical facilities public.

The sheer amount of content being created, and the near constant removals of materials from public channels means that Yemeni Archive is in a race against time to preserve important documentation of crimes committed. Content preserved and verified by the Yemeni Archive might offer the only evidence to corroborate witness testimonies of attacks on medical facilities, and to implicate potential perpetrators.

Due to Yemeni Archive’s technical infrastructure and the constant monitoring of the status of videos and channels, we have been able to identify many examples of documentation of attacks on hospitals and medical facilities in which users did not remove the content willingly. Of the 159 videos from Youtube included in the dataset, 3.95% have been made unavailable. Of the 526 Twitter posts included in the dataset, 3.14% have been made unavailable.

Facebook Posts



Youtube Videos

Attacks on medical facilities in Yemen

Since 2015, Yemen has witnessed a civil war in which regional and global powers have intervened to prop up various local parties to the conflict. The war has resulted in thousands of civilian deaths and injuries and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians. Throughout the war, many civilian objects, including homes, schools, hospitals and vital infrastructure, were targeted by all parties of the conflict.

Attacks on medical facilities, medical and health workers and patients are prohibited by international humanitarian law and constitute war crimes. The Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Additional Protocols of 1977 mandate the protection of health care facilities and health care workers. Medical facilities are protected by virtue of their function but also because they are run by civilians and civilians are likely to be present in large numbers, especially during times of conflict.

The only exception to this rule is when these medical facilities are used for military purposes, for example as weapons storage facilities or military bases from which missiles are launched. Even then, Article 19 of the First Geneva Conventions stipulates that such protection may “cease only after due warning has been given, naming in all appropriate cases a reasonable time limit and after such warning has remained unheeded”.

Security Council 2286 passed in 2016 and co-sponsored by more than 80 UN member states reiterates commitment to international humanitarian law and calls on member states to be proactive in addressing attacks on health care during times of war and in adopting practical measures. The UN Secretary-General has published a list of recommended measures that would help support the implementation of Res.2286. These measures include political, diplomatic and economic pressure on parties found to be perpetrating attacks on health care, refrain from selling arms to perpetrators and investigating attacks and prosecuting violators.

On March 26, 2015, Saudi Arabia announced the start of the military operations of the Arab Coalition forces in Yemen under the name of “Operation Decisive Storm”, with the aim of restoring the legitimacy of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi. This attack was a response to the coup by the Houthi forces and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, which aimed to control the cities of Aden, Taiz and Marib.

The sea, land and air blockade imposed by the Saudi-led coalition has had a profound effect on the Yemeni health sector. Many medical facilities have been forced to shut, leaving injured and sick patients untreated, and basic services such as vaccination campaigns have been stopped. This lack of access to basic medical care has caused untold suffering to Yemeni civilians and has negatively impacted the average life expectancy of the Yemeni population.

Trends and patterns

Since the Saudi-led Coalition began airstrikes, hospitals and medical have been targeted regularly, with a large increase in facilities attacked between March and December 2015. The frequency of attacks was reduced starting in January 2016 and continuing throughout that same year until December.

In 2017, airstrikes on medical facilities increased again, peaking between October and December, however the number of airstrikes on medical facilities did not reach the same frequency as observed in 2015. During 2018, airstrikes were most frequent in June and December. In 2019, the number of airstrikes targeting medical facilities was most frequent in in March and August.

For the attacks on medical facilities identified within this database, Yemeni Archive has determined both alleged perpetrators as well as the area of control in which the medical facility was located.

Of the 133 attacks identified, Saudi-led coalition forces are allegedly responsible for 72 attacks, Houthis forces are allegedly responsible for 52 attacks, Al-Qaeda is allegedly responsible for three attacks, and the forces loyal to the Saudi-led coalition forces are allegedly responsible for three attacks. We could not determine the perpetrator in another three attacks.

Medical workers have been killed both by direct attacks from perpetrators or died as a result of bombings on medical facilities they were in. The 133 attacks identified by Yemeni Archive include 129 attacks in which medical facilities were directly hit.

Nine of the incidents in which medical facilities were allegedly directly hit by the Saudi-led coalition resulted in the death or injury of injured medical workers. For example, airstrikes in which Al Dourayhmi Rural Hospital was hit led to the death of many staff members.

Sixteen of the incidents in which medical facilities were allegedly directly hit by by Houthi forces resulted in the death or injury of medical workers. For example, the repeated shelling of Al Thawra hospital, which Yemeni Archive has conducted an in-depth investigation into, led to injuries among several staff members. In the city of Ad Dali, Houthi forces stormed a hospital and directly attacked medical workers inside.

Documentation obtained by Yemeni Archive indicates additional four attacks in which medical facilities were not directly targeted, but medical staff were allegedly killed as a result of alleged targeting. This includes three incidents in which ambulances were hit during Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, and one incident in which an ambulance was targeted during a Houthi-led ground assault.

In areas controlled by Houthi forces, 83 medical facilities were targeted. In areas controlled by Yemeni government forces 17 medical facilities were targeted, in areas controlled by the Saudi-led coalition 31 medical facilities were targeted. One medical facility was attacked in al-Qaeda controlled areas.

Discover Incidents

Delivery method used

Yemeni Archive also analysed the delivery method by which medical facilities were targeted. The following table summarises these findings.

Number of incidentsCategory
12Artillery shelling
14Light weapons
2Rocket launchers
6Missile shelling
2Tank shelling
2Car bomb
2Explosive device

This demonstrates that the majority of medical facilities identified within this database were targeted in airstrikes (71 attacks), followed by artillery shelling (12 attacks) and light weapons (14 attacks). Mortars were used in 9 attacks, and missiles were used in 6 attacks. Tanks, car bombs, rocket launchers, and explosive devices were used all used in 2 attacks each. For 13 attacks on medical facilities, we were unable to determine the delivery method of munition used.

Repeated attacks

Some medical facilities have been subjected to multiple attacks, and as a result, have gone out of service. Yemeni Archive independently confirmed the repeated targeting of 11 hospitals through using the name of the medical facility, the location, and the date of the attack.

For example, Marib Hospital, Haradh German Hospital, Taiz Military Hospital, Al-Thawra Hospital in Hodeidah, Martyr Saif Al-Sawadi Hospital, the Field Hospital and the Seventy Maternity Hospital were attacked twice. The Yemeni hospital was attacked three times. The May 22 Hospital in Hodeidah was attacked four times, and Hais Hospital was attacked five times. The Al-Thawra Hospital in Taiz was attacked nine times.

Hospital NameNumber of Records
Al-Thawrah hospital9
Hays Al-Rifi hospital5
22 Mayo hospital4
Military hospital Taiz3
Yemen international hospital3
Republican hospital Taiz2
Mareb hospital2
Harad German hospital2
Harad general hospital2
Al-Thawrah hospital - Sanaa2
Al-Thawrah hospital - Hudaydah2
Al-Shaheed Saif Al-Sawadi hospital2
Al-Maydani hospital2
Al Sabeen hospital for motherhood2
Al Dourayhmi rural hospital2
Military Hospital Sanaa2


Yemeni Archive has found documentation that 59 incidents resulted in civilian casualties. Of these, we have been able to confirm the number of victims from 35 of the attacks. Non-combatants, including women, children and medical staff, were killed and dozens were injured. We were additionally able to confirm that an additional 24 attacks resulted in civilian casualties, however we were unable to determine the exact number of victims using open-source techniques due to the conflicting information in numbers about the attacks on medical facilities. For example, for several attacks the casualty figures reported a total number of victims of all attacks on one day, including casualties in medical facilities and centers, but also markets and civilian homes. In 74 attacks, no casualties were reported.


Civilians Killed

The number of civilians killed as a result of attacks on health care


Civilians Injured

The number of civilians Injured as a result of attacks on health care


Women and Children Killed

The number of women and children killed as a result of attacks on health care

The number of documented victims resulting from attacks on medical facilities in Yemen (who were killed by the main actors in the conflict) is 98 people, including three women and 20 children. The number of injured is at least 191, including eight women and six children, as a result of repeated attacks on medical facilities and centers.

Errors, corrections and feedback

The Yemeni Archive strives for accuracy and transparency of process in our reporting and presentation. That said, it is recognised that the information publicly available for particular events can, at times, be limited. Our video datasets are therefore organically maintained, and represent our best present understanding of alleged incidents. If you have new information about a particular event; if you find an error in our work - or if you have concerns about the way we are reporting our data - please do engage with us. You can reach us at