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As Conflict in Libya Escalates, International Medical Corps Teams in Libya, Tunisia & Egypt Providing Critically Needed Care and Supplies

Los Angeles, CA, March 26, 2011

Following weeks of strikes from government forces and the allied coalition’s enforcement of a no-fly zone, the crisis in Libya continues to escalate and endanger civilians throughout the country. More than 335,000 people have fled the violence to neighboring countries, primarily Tunisia and Egypt, scores of civilians have been killed, and a reported 600,000 inside Libya are in need of humanitarian assistance.

International Medical Corps' emergency response teams in Libya and at the borders in Tunisia and Egypt are assessing ongoing needs, providing medical care and critical supplies.

Eastern Libya:

As areas in eastern Libya are experiencing intense fighting, our local teams are addressing urgent needs in Benghazi, Ajdabiya, and nearby settlements of internally displaced people.

  • An International Medical Corps team was able to reach Ajdabiya which has experienced constant attacks, in some of the heaviest fighting in Libya, over the past weeks.  Our team conducted a rapid assessment of Ajdabiya Hospital and, today and yesterday, delivered essential medical supplies including USAID/OFDA-supplied emergency health kits. The hospital urgently requires support, with a serious shortage of staff (only five doctors and three nurses are currently available) and surgical supplies, no running water and only a small generator to supply electricity. International Medical Corps is responding to these urgent needs and will provide staffing and further supplies tomorrow.
  • To address urgent humanitarian needs in settlements outside of Ajdabiya where many have fled, the team distributed food and supplies in Al Butwen, Albethnan and Genane.  The team coordinated with the Boy Scouts of Benghazi and a community-organized humanitarian convoy to distribute the relief 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 provided by our partner MAP International.  A generator was delivered and an International Medical Corps doctor and nurse are providing support at the clinic.
  • Due to a major shortage of nurses in Libya, a team of International Medical Corps nurses and doctors is supporting Benghazi Medical Center, the largest hospital in eastern Libya, which is receiving a large number of casualties from Ajdabiya.

Western Libya:

  • Although the border is currently closed to humanitarian agencies and journalists, International Medical Corps is sending in supplies to address identified medical needs.
  • International Medical Corps continues to monitor the situation and plans to enter Western Libya as soon as it is feasible.

Tunisia/Libya Border:

  • International Medical Corps is coordinating with a local partner to implement comprehensive health services at a transit camp 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.  A total of 87 volunteers have been trained to date.
  • Although most fleeing the crisis are male migrant workers, International Medical Corps has found an increase in the number of women and families.

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.
  • The team 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’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (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.

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For more than 25 years, International Medical Corps has responded to the needs of those displaced by conflict, such as the 1994 Rwandan genocide and 1998 ethnic cleansing and conflict in Kosovo. International Medical Corps is currently working inside Iraq and throughout Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon to support displaced Iraqis, and assists refugees from Darfur on the Sudan/Chad border. In Pakistan, International Medical Corps is supporting the millions displaced by conflict and the recent flooding. For more information visit: www.InternationalMedicalCorps.org, or see us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

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