Medical Agencies Warn Over Humanitarian Situation Amid Rising Casualties Grow In Tripoli

Battle For Tripoli

First Posted: 22/08/11 17:57 Updated: 22/10/11 11:12

Humanitarian agencies in Tripoli are warning of a severe lack of medical assistance in the capital as the number of casualties grows amid heavy fighting.

Sky News has reported that there is only one functioning hospital in Tripoli, which has been swamped by casualties over the last few days.

The International Committee of the Red Cross team in Tripoli said it started delivering medical and surgical material to four main hospitals on Monday, estimating there were 300 war-wounded patients in need of attention.

Jonathan Whittell, the Emergency Co-ordinator for Medecins Sans Frontieres, has been in Tripoli for the past three weeks. He told the Huffington Post UK he was "extremely concerned" at the humanitarian situation in Tripoli.

What pressures are the hospitals facing?
There is extreme strain at the moment as there were existing problems in Tripoli, dating back to the beginning of the conflict. Hospitals were already short of medical supplies as a result of sanctions, and now we have the wounded from front line of fighting being brought here for treatment. Armed fighters and civilians alike are needing treatment for shot-wounds as the clashes continue.

Do you have the right medical supplies?
Medical supplies are in fact short in all of Libya at present. The money intended to pay for drugs here was frozen as part of the UN Security Council's sanctions, which of course should not have happened. In Tripoli we are seeing major drug shortages and it will take some time for the drugs needed to arrive in the country. We are providing drugs ourselves, but they are a drop in the ocean of what is required.

Do you have enough doctors?
Many health workers who used to work in Tripoli were foreign, either from other countries in the region, or from the Phillipines. Workers who had come over work left as soon as the fighting stared at the beginning of the year, so Libya has been short of medical workers for months and months now.

What will happen over the next few days?
We are mobilising medical teams, who are currently on their way from Tunisia. We also have to work around the fact that fighting has not yet stopped, so it is going to be difficult to secure access to hospitals, but we will be working tirelessly to do so.

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