The crisis in Libya continues to escalate with the eastern part of the country experiencing heavy strikes throughout the past week. The cities of Benghazi, Ras Lanuf, Brega and Ajdabiya have experienced intense fighting and a reported 600,000 civilians in the country are in need of humanitarian assistance. International Medical Corps’ teams in eastern Libya are addressing urgent needs in Benghazi, Brega, Ras Lanuf Ajdabiya and nearby settlements of internally displaced people.
Last week an International Medical Corps team was able to reach Ajdabiya, which had experienced constant attacks and some of the heaviest fighting in Libya of recent weeks. Our team conducted a rapid assessment of Ajdabiya Hospital and delivered essential medical supplies including emergency health kits supplied by USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA). The hospital urgently requires support, with a serious shortage of nursing staff and surgical supplies, no running water and only a small generator to supply electricity. International Medical Corps is responding to these urgent needs with staffing and supplies including potable water.
An International Medical Corps team also reached Brega over the weekend where they assessed health needs of the local population and at the local Polyclinic. In settlements outside of Ajdabiya, where many have fled, a team distributed food, water and supplies in Al Butwen, Albethnan and Genane. International Medical Corps coordinated with the Boy Scouts of Benghazi and a community-organized humanitarian convoy to distribute the supplies.
International Medical Corps’ emergency response team is addressing the humanitarian needs of approximately 25,000 displaced persons who have gathered in Al Butwen. As the only health clinic in Al Butwen has a serious shortage of medical supplies, water and no electricity, the team plans to distribute an emergency health kit – which serves a population of 30,000 for one month. A generator was delivered and an International Medical Corps doctor and nurse are providing support at the clinic.
In Albethnan, another town hosting displaced persons from Ajdabiya, International Medical Corps delivered bottled water and is working to establish more sustainable water delivery methods. A team also visited a polyclinic in Albethnan, where physicians were trained on health information systems to better monitor the spread of infections and diseases. International Medical Corps is working with physicians from the Benghazi Medical Center to distribute health kits to the Albethnan polyclinic and the surrounding areas of Ajdabiya, where many of the displaced are residing. Due to a major shortage of staff, a team of International Medical Corps nurses and doctors is supporting Benghazi Medical Center, the largest hospital in eastern Libya, which received a large number of casualties from Ajdabiya.
The team visited Ras Lanuf today and is in the process of assessing needs at the hospital and in the community.
Although the western border of Libya is currently closed to humanitarian agencies and journalists, International Medical Corps is sending in supplies to address identified medical needs, continues to monitor the situation, and plans to enter Western Libya as soon as it is feasible. More than 375,000 people have fled the violence to neighboring countries, primarily Tunisia and Egypt, where International Medical Corps teams have been providing ongoing care.
On the Tunisia/Libya Border:
International Medical Corps’ team has received information that Libyan refugees staying in Zarzis, Tunisia urgently need housing support and supplies as their cash supply depletes. Fifty Libyan families are reported to be in Zarzis and Djerba and are in need of chronic medications and other items. International Medical Corps will further assess these needs and determine if additional assistance is needed by the Tunisian health services to support these populations.
International Medical Corps is coordinating with a local partner to implement comprehensive health services at Choucha transit camp in Tunisia and address a shortage of latrines and safe sanitation which could lead to the spread of communicable diseases. The team is also working to distribute hygiene kits. With mental health issues on the rise, International Medical Corps is implementing psychological first aid training for volunteers and primary health care workers. Health post activities have begun at the transit facility – currently, those in the camp have to walk 1km to the Tunisian Civil Protection health post to receive health services.
On the Egypt/Libya Border:
International Medical Corps is providing emergency health care to migrant workers at a clinic near the border town of Salloum, Egypt. The team is also planning to conduct health outreach activities including hygiene promotion and scabies awareness. International Medical Corps continues to advocate for contingency planning mechanisms and coordination with all involved agencies to prepare for any increase in arrivals across the Egypt/Libya border.
Through a $1 million grant from USAID/OFDA, International Medical Corps is addressing immediate health care gaps in Libya. Teams are also assisting in establishing a unified mechanism for reporting needed medical supplies and coordinating donated items. In addition, International Medical Corps has been working to preposition essential medical supplies (such as surgical instrument sets and basic health care equipment) and non-food items (including hygiene kits, blankets, and water containers) donated through gift-in-kind partners MAP International and AmeriCares.
Clashes between protestors and government loyalists began last month and intensified February 25 in and around Tripoli. The number of those killed in Libya is thought to be in the thousands, while Internet has been cut off and many foreign journalists are not allowed to enter the country.