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Red Cross: Hospital in Sirte Overwhelmed

  • Lisa Schlein

Libyan revolutionary fighters transport an injured man to a field hospital outside Sirte, Libya, September 30, 2011.

Libyan revolutionary fighters transport an injured man to a field hospital outside Sirte, Libya, September 30, 2011.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reports conditions in the Libyan town of Sirte are deteriorating as the fighting intensifies for control of the birthplace of Libya's former leader Moammar Gadhafi's hometown. The ICRC completed a third visit Thursday to assess the medical situation.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says one of its teams took advantage of a lull in the fighting in Sirte to evacuate three wounded people from Ibn Sina Hospital. The evacuees, including a nine-year-old girl, were moved to a field hospital on the other side of the front lines.

Red Cross spokesman Steven Anderson says the team found the hospital was overwhelmed with wounded people. Because of the fighting in the area, he says, most patients have been moved from wards to the corridors, where it is safer.

"There are few doctors left in the hospital," said Anderson. "People from the area actually have moved into the hospital as well, so it is a very delicate situation in the hospital. Medical supplies are still needed. We did provide a number of medical supplies in the past days, but more is needed, including fuel as well for the generator that enables electricity to function in the hospital. Otherwise, there is no electricity in the town. And there is also probably a need to evacuate more wounded people from the hospital."

The Red Cross reports about 20,000 people have fled Sirte in recent weeks. Among them are women, children and the elderly.

"The first time we went to the hospital, we saw that the water reservoir had been hit by a rocket," added Anderson. "That was also an issue. So, indeed there have been situations where the hospital had received some hits due to the fighting and, of course, it is of concern - and this is why we remind that the hospital is protected under international humanitarian law. It is particularly important as fighting is continuing."

The International Committee of the Red Cross is calling for health care workers and humanitarian personnel to be allowed to continue working. For now, Anderson says no place in Sirte is immune from attack, including the hospital.

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