accessibility & help

Libya: volunteers and medical personnel in danger

18 May 2011

As fighting continues in Misrata and other cities in Libya, civilians are struggling to get medical aid and health workers are among the casualties.

The Libyan Red Crescent reports that in the past five days, three of its ambulances have been hit in three separate incidents, resulting in the death of a nurse and injuries to a patient and three volunteers.

In addition, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has received allegations concerning the misuse of the red cross and red crescent emblems to support military operations, and the use of ambulances to transport arms and weapon bearers.

Reaching the wounded

Red Cross doctor operating in Libya© InfoGeorgios Georgantas, ICRC deputy head of operations for north and west Africa, said: "Medical personnel and ambulances must be allowed to reach the wounded. We reiterate our call to the authorities and to all weapons bearers to respect medical services and the emblems of the red crescent and red cross."
 
Misrata’s two main hospitals are struggling to cope with the injured, a situation made worse by the fact that many specialised doctors and nursing staff have fled the city.

”Treating critical cases is difficult, and it is currently impossible to treat cancer patients and people with chronic diseases," explained ICRC doctor Gabriel Salazar. An ICRC team last week visited Al Hikma hospital and the Libyan Red Crescent hospital, delivering surgical kits and dressing materials. The team evacuated 108 civilians from Misrata to Benghazi: 35 people from this group had to be hospitalised and 25 of those had suffered weapon wounds.

Access to water

During a three-day visit to Misrata, the ICRC team delivered food and other essential supplies to around 300 foreign nationals living in the camp run by volunteers from the Libyan Red Crescent.

Access to water remains problematic in Misrata, and people continue to rely on the desalination plant and the local wells. The ICRC team will continue to monitor the water situation closely over the coming months.
 
Red Cross delegates also visited and registered 185 detainees in two places of detention under the authority of the Libyan Armed Opposition. More than 170 ‘safe and well’ messages were collected and will be delivered to the families of those detainees, who are anxious to receive news.

Read more about the Red Cross response to the Libyan conflict

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