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Hospitals…Another Casualty of War in Tripoli

Hospitals…Another Casualty of War in Tripoli

Monday, 13 January, 2020 - 13:00
A security member inspects the site of an overnight air strike, which hit a residential district in Tripoli, Libya October 14, 2019. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny
Cairo - Asharq Al-Awsat

Since the fighting escalated in the Libyan capital Tripoli last April, people have continued to suffer. Many of their neighborhoods have become battlegrounds and residents are forcibly displaced to seek refuge. Those unable to afford better housing have no choice but to sleep in streets, schools and abandoned dwellings during a harsh winter.


Many families emphasize that housing is not the only difficulty they face, another major challenge they face is the inability of hospitals to keep up with the growing pressure of treating injured casualties. Iman Abou Slim, who is a mother of four, was forced to flee Salah al-Din in the south of the capital a few months ago. She says: “Alternative housing costs us no less than 1,400 Dinars, which means that we can no longer afford treatment at private hospitals … We hoped that public hospitals would improve, but the situation remains unchanged. There is still a shortage of qualified doctors and medicines.”


Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, the Red Crescent’s representative in Tripoli, Assad Jaafar said: “The healthcare situation is deteriorating throughout the country, including the capital, but this does not mean that hospitals have stopped working or accepting patients. Most hospitals are operational and can accept patients, but many of those with critical injuries were transferred to neighboring countries, mostly to Tunisia, as they could not be treated here. There is one hospital that is not functional and that is Ibn Al-Nafis Diabetes and Endocrine Treatment Center in Tripoli. It was bombed at the beginning of the year, and some health centers affiliated with the Field Medicine Center were targeted more than once, despite the United Nations mission providing coordinates of the locations of those hospitals." 


In his most recent testimony to the United Nations, at the beginning of this month, Ghassan Salameh, the UN envoy to Libya, spoke of dozens of drone strikes on health care facilities, and the United Nations Mission documented at least 58 attacks on medical personnel and health facilities during 2019.


The Government of National Accord’s representative, Faouzi Wanis, said the contrary. He stressed that, despite difficulties, the situation could be described as “good”.


He explained to Asharq Al-Awsat that "due to 9 months of aggression, emergency rooms have been prepared, and medical teams are operating 24 hours a day. There is a sufficient amount of various types of medicines and medical supplies, including medicines for chronic diseases ... Ofcourse, we do face day to day problems, especially when it comes to rare blood types, but the matter is generally under control. Wanis enumerated the number of medical centers damaged by the war, noting that ''only Ibn al-Nafis'' Hospital and 10 other health centers were bombed by hostile forces."


"The southern side of the Maatika Hospital, where the drug storage centers were completely destroyed, has also incurred damage. The field hospital in the suburb of al-Siwani, south of Tripoli, as well as the field hospital in Salah al-Din were also targeted, and more than 15 ambulances were destroyed in the process," he added.


According to a new report issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, more than 140 thousand people have fled since clashes started last April.


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