Egypt Independent

ICRC to dispatch emergency medical assistance to violence-racked Libya



As the humanitarian situation deteriorates in next-door Libya, a surgical team affiliated with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is expected to enter the troubled North African nation on Monday to help local medical staffs treat the injured, ICRC officials in Cairo told Al-Masry Al-Youm.

“The current situation is getting worse," ICRC Cairo spokesman Mohamed Sultan said. "Hospitals and clinics in cities like Benghazi are struggling to cope with large numbers of wounded.”

The emergency medical team, composed of six surgeons, will provide support for the medical staff of the Libyan Red Crescent, added Sultan.

"We're here to support the Libyan Red Crescent, which has been doing an excellent job over the past week responding to the violence," Simon Brooks, ICRC team leader in Benghazi, said in a press release issued on Sunday.

"We hear that surgeons and orthopedic specialists are needed in Benghazi's hospitals, as well as medicine for patients suffering from chronic illnesses," added Brooks. "Our initial assessment is that there is no urgent need for food supplies. It's difficult to know, however, what the needs are outside the city."

The ICRC has also made an emergency appeal for US$6.4 million to meet the needs of those most affected by the unrest. The appeal is intended to “ensure adequate surgical and medical care for the wounded and emergency aid for people who have fled from Libya into neighboring Tunisia and Egypt,” the ICRC said in a statement on Friday. 

The uprising, now in its 11th day, has resulted in massive human causalities, as Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has attempted to quell the rebellion with extreme violence.

The United Nations Security Council has voted 15-0 to impose sanctions on Gadhafi.

Meanwhile, more than 100,000 people have fled Libya into neighboring Egypt and Tunisia within the past week, according to UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.

"The reports we're getting indicate that the humanitarian situation inside Libya is worsening by the hour," said ICRC Deputy Director of Operations Dominik Stillhart in a statement issued on Friday.

“The ICRC has already sent two emergency teams, one to the Libyan territory and one to the Egyptian-Libyan border, in order to conduct a detailed assessment of the humanitarian situation there,” said Sultan.

According to Tunisian authorities, some 40,000 people have entered the country from Libya since 20 February. Egypt, for its part, has accepted 55,000 people crossing the Libyan border into the country since 19 February, the UNHCR said on Sunday.