FOURTEEN casualties of the Libyan conflict have arrived in Ireland to undergo treatment for injuries they sustained during the fight to overthrow Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
The wounded arrived in Shannon shortly after 5.20pm yesterday on a flight from Tunisia via France accompanied by a doctor. While here, the men will undergo surgery for a range of traumatic injuries, including gunshot and shrapnel wounds.
As many as 70 well-wishers from the Libyan community in Ireland, including children carrying flags and banners, gathered at Shannon from early afternoon to welcome their countrymen. Many bought gifts from airport shops.
Speaking through a translator, Mohmud Abdullah Albrbar (21) said: "I had some concerns coming here but after seeing all the people who came out, I am very happy to be here. I have gunshot wounds and was injured by a missile and my wounds are months old. I am happy to be here."
The patient transfer was organised by the new Libyan Minster for Health Dr Fatima Hamroush and Galway-based consultant Dr Amina Gsel, who both had to watch the trouble in their native land from their adoptive homes in Ireland.
"It was a very difficult time for us all. It was eight months of hell for us looking at Libyan blood being spilt, but thankfully we can now do something about it and help out," said Dr Gsel. who has worked for more than 20 years in Ireland.
"The Libyan society here in Ireland has worked very hard to get these patients over here, but we have received huge help from the Department of Foreign Affairs. In some cases, they approved visas for the rebels in a matter of hours."
Private hospitals in Galway, Limerick, Cork and Dublin will care for the Libyan patients.
The patients were accompanied on the trip by Dr Ahmed Ibrahim Alsawee from Libya and were immediately dispatched to their care facilities upon their arrival.
Seven patients will be treated in Galway, four or five will receive care in the Barrington, while another three will be moved to Cappagh hospital.
The Libyan Health Office was established here in recent months to organise treatment and care for those injured in the effort to overthrow the Gaddafi regime.