News / Africa

Red Cross Appeals for Access to Libyan City of Misrata

Injured men rest inside a Turkish ship carrying 250 wounded people from the besieged Libyan city of Misrata, at a port in Benghazi, Apr 3 2011
Injured men rest inside a Turkish ship carrying 250 wounded people from the besieged Libyan city of Misrata, at a port in Benghazi, Apr 3 2011

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A Turkish ferry converted into a hospital ship brought 250 wounded people to Benghazi for treatment.  The ship had docked in Misrata under escort by Turkish fighter planes after waiting unsuccessfully for days for permission.

Red Cross spokesperson Iman Monkar said weeks of fighting had prevented the group's medical teams from entering Misrata, 200 kilometers east of Tripoli, and the organization is very worried about the situation.

"Medical supplies have started to run out. So for us most important is to deliver these supplies to Misrata and that is why we keep asking everybody to grant us a safe access to Misrata," said Monkar. "So far we are still discussing. Our team has not been there yet but hopefully we will be able to do it as soon as possible."

This was the first humanitarian mission to reach Misrata since forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi launched an offensive to re-take territory lost during a popular uprising six weeks ago.

One of the wounded on the ship, Ibrahim al Alaraby, said the situation in Misrata is desperate.

He says water and electricity were cut off one month ago and there is no information about what is going on outside Misrata.  He says the city is cut off.

Another evacuee, Ali Mohammad, said pro-Gadhafi forces were targeting civilians in the city.

He says Colonel Gadhafi and his troops are using tanks and bombs and snipers on the top of buildings. But he says the opposition will win,"with God’s help."

The ship later left for Turkey with an additional 70 wounded from Benghazi’s hospitals.

An injured man evacuated from the besieged Libyan city of Misrata, arrived in Sfax on an aid ship operated by charity Medecins Sans Frontieres Apr 4 2011
An injured man evacuated from the besieged Libyan city of Misrata, arrived in Sfax on an aid ship operated by charity Medecins Sans Frontieres Apr 4 2011

Another relief group, Doctors without Borders, announced it had evacuated 71 wounded from Misrata to Tunisia in a separate operation.

The Red Cross says its teams have been able to reach the cities of Brega and Ajdabiyah, about 200 kilometers from Benghazi. Opposition forces in eastern Libya have been fighting a back-and-forth battle with Gadhafi troops during the past few days.

The Red Cross says it has delivered 1,700 kilograms of surgical kits and frontline first-aid kits.

It also has distributed emergency food to 15,000 people displaced by the fighting in eastern Libya.

The spokesperson said the humanitarian agency had been invited to send a delegation to Tripoli to discuss assistance to government-held areas, but said it is still in talks on procedures.

The Red Cross appealed to both sides to allow it safe access to all the people in Libya who need help.

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