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Dublin: 5 °C Wednesday 1 April, 2020

Ireland contributes €100k to emergency medical supplies for Tripoli

Serious medical supply and staff shortages have left Tripoli hospitals unable to cope with the level of casualties from the Libyan conflict.

Libyans cover their faces as they search for a friend among the bodies outside the Abu Salim hospital today
Libyans cover their faces as they search for a friend among the bodies outside the Abu Salim hospital today
Image: AP Photo/Francois Mori/PA

THE NUMBER OF casualties presenting at Tripoli hospitals has risen sharply in recent days, seriously overwhelming the available resources and medical staff.

The Red Cross (ICRC) is sending an emergency surgical team to help cope with the level of casualties.

The Irish government today announced it is contributing €100,000 towards international efforts to provide emergency medical supplies to the Libyan capital.

Minister of State for Trade and Development Jan O’Sullivan said earlier that the Red Cross, the recipient of the Irish funds,  ”is working directly with some of the main hospitals in Tripoli”.

George Comninos, head of the ICRC’s Tripoli delegation, said yesterday that the organisation is “increasingly concerned” about medical staff’s ability to reach hospitals.

He said that the organisation has distributed medical and surgical equipment to the three main hospitals in Tripoli and several private clinics, and will continue to deliver such supplies in the coming days. Comninos said there are serious supply shortages all over the country.

A team from Médecins San Frontières has been assessing conditions at medical facilities in Tripoli. The group says that one clinic treated 100 injured patients on the first day of the heavy violence alone.

MSF is sending medical teams from Tunisia and other parts of Libya to Tripoli. It has already sent teams to Zlitan and Al Zawiyah to support surgical procedures there.

Crippled hospital

Earlier today, Al Jazeera aired this report on the appalling conditions at one Tripoli hospital. Largely abandoned by medical staff during escalating violence between rebels and Gaddafi loyalists, bodies are decomposing on hospital beds both inside wards and outside the Abu Salim trauma hospital.

Just two doctors have stayed, according to the report. George Comninos of the ICRC said the facility is unable to function due to its staff shortage.

(Viewer discretion is advised: the following footage contains images some may find distressing)

The area has seen some of this week’s heaviest fighting. A rebel in the area today told the AP that fighting in abu Salim had ended by nightfall yesterday. AP reporters flagged down a taxi to move some of the wounded to another hospital and although the driver initially agreed, other men intervened and said the patients would have to be interrogated before being allowed to leave.

Meanwhile, the National Transitional Council has announced it will be moving from its current base in Benghazi to Tripoli as the search for Gaddafi continues. An audio message from Gaddafi was aired last night in which he called for people to continue the fight against the rebels.

Earlier this week, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed to both sides in the conflict to find a smooth and peaceful transition and to avoid further loss of life and acts of retribution.

- Additional reporting by the AP

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