Saturday 21 April 2018

Libya: Medical aid pledged to help injured and ill

A man shakes a can of air freshener to spray in a room that has housed dead bodies in a hospital in Tripoli, Libya,
A man shakes a can of air freshener to spray in a room that has housed dead bodies in a hospital in Tripoli, Libya, yesterday
Bodies of men, believed to have been executed by soldiers loyal to Gaddafi, pictured in a Tripoli hospital
Gaddafi's abandoned Bab Al Azaziya compound in Tripoli

Daniel Bentley and Laura Harding

Medical support funded by the British Government will help thousands of patients injured during the conflict in Libya, as well as those with serious diseases, a major humanitarian organisation said today.

Amid fears of an escalating humanitarian crisis, assistance will be provided by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with support from the Department for International Development.

Surgical teams and medicines will be laid on to help up to 5,000 wounded, as well as food and household essentials for almost 690,000.

Steven Anderson, a spokesman for the ICRC, said: "Medical supplies are one of the main problems that will help people on the ground out there.

"Many drugs are lacking and the import has been slowed down. Even drugs for cancer, diabetes, kidney failure are running out and that is a real issue."

He added: "We bring in some drugs ourselves, medical materials and surgical supplies for a number of hospitals.

"When we see a specific need, such as the measles epidemic in the south close to the border with Chad, we can provide 40,000 doses of vaccine, which we distribute through our immunisation programme."

The support comes amid reports of harrowing conditions in one Tripoli hospital - the abandoned Abu Salim hospital - where dozens of decomposing bodies were piled up, including 21 bodies in one room.

It will also include helping families reunite after being broken up by the conflict.

Britain will provide urgent humanitarian support including medical help, food and other basic supplies for thousands of people affected by the conflict in Libya, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell announced today.

Mr Mitchell said humanitarian agencies were doing "extraordinary" work while putting their own lives on the line in Libya.

"As the conflict moves into its final stages there are many Libyans in need of urgent humanitarian help," he said.

"The situation on the ground in Tripoli is an incredibly difficult one for humanitarian agencies.

"But organisations such as the ICRC are doing extraordinary work in dangerous and difficult circumstances to get supplies and doctors through to those in need.

"This new funding from our development budget will help them to continue their vital work in critical areas across Libya.

"Today we pay a huge tribute to the humanitarian agencies who are risking their lives in Libya to help and sustain their fellow human beings."

Intense fighting in Libya continued as Muammar Gaddafi remained at large, despite Nato's support for the hunt for the dictator.

British Defence Secretary Liam Fox urged the Gaddafi regime to recognise that the "game is up" and called for it to stop attacking its own people.

But Dr Fox stressed that it was "premature to assume" the fighting was over as strong pockets of resistance remained.

Nato and UK forces from RAF Marham launched an attack on a command and control bunker of the Gaddafi regime in Sirte.

Despite the ongoing violence and the failure to capture Gaddafi, the National Transitional Council (NTC) cabinet was pressing ahead with its hugely symbolic move from eastern stronghold Benghazi to Tripoli.

The NTC also received a boost as a deal was struck at the United Nations to release 1.5 billion US dollars of frozen Libyan assets.

Dr Fox said: "It's still important that we remove the potential for the regime to counter-attack against the NTC and to continue to wage war on their people, but it is far too early yet to say what the security situation will be in the weeks ahead."

He said it was the "primary responsibility" of the new government of Libya to request help from the UN if it wanted it.

He added: "We have information that there are some elements of the regime in Sirte. Where they are still continuing to wage war on the people of Libya, we will continue to degrade their military capabilities.

"The attack on the military bunker last night by the RAF was part of that.

"The regime needs to recognise that the game is up. It is all over and they need to stop attacking their own people.

"But as long as they do continue to attack the people, Nato will continue to act as we have done under the UN Resolution 1973 to degrade the command and control and the military assets that they are using against the people of Libya."

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