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Libya: Fighting parties must spare the wounded

28-01-2014 News Release 14/16

Tripoli/Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Libyan Red Crescent are concerned about continued fighting in the south-western city of Sabha and in areas such as Kufra and the outskirts of Tripoli, and are calling for the wounded and civilians to be spared.

Scores of people have died or been injured since fighting broke out two weeks ago.

"We urge those involved in the fighting to give the wounded on all sides immediate and safe access to the medical treatment they need," said Ramy Saliba, the ICRC's head of office in Sabha. "In some cases, fighting has taken place in the vicinity of a hospital. All health-care facilities must be protected at all times."

The volatile security situation has rendered health-care access increasingly difficult, with insufficient medical supplies reaching the main hospitals and the various clinics treating casualties in Sabha, Murzuq and Ubari. "All hospitals are under extreme pressure. Medical personnel sometimes avoid work out of fear for their lives," said Dr Fawzi Azowai, in charge of international relations at the Libyan Red Crescent. "Red Crescent volunteers in Sabha are working in extremely difficult conditions to remove the wounded and the dead."

The prolonged fighting in Sabha has seriously disrupted normal life in the entire south-west of the country. "Essential supplies are not getting through owing to the volatile security situation that has forced airports to close," added Mr Saliba. "There are already fuel and gas shortages, and food supplies are running out."

The ICRC and the Libyan Red Crescent are seeking to respond to the most urgent humanitarian needs in areas affected by fighting in the south-west. In cooperation with the health ministry, the two organizations have sent enough medical supplies to the hospital in Murzuq to provide surgical treatment for up to 50 wounded patients if the need arises. Furthermore, in 2013 the ICRC organized four seminars with the ministry to train surgeons from across the country in trauma management and in the special skills needed to treat patients with weapon-related injuries.

The ICRC visits detainees and helps maintain or restore contact between family members throughout the country. It works with the Libyan Red Crescent to help people injured or displaced by violence, and trains Red Crescent volunteers to raise awareness of the dangers of explosive remnants of war. It also promotes adherence to the rules of international humanitarian law and universal humanitarian principles among the authorities and within the armed forces.

ENDS

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