Libya: Médecins Sans Frontières is extremely concerned with the plight of the wounded; calls for unhindered access to medical care

March 12, 2011

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Libya: Médecins Sans Frontières is extremely concerned with the plight of the wounded; calls for unhindered access to medical care

Geneva, 12 March 2011 – As conflict intensifies inside Libya, the international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is extremely concerned with the situation of the wounded caught in the middle of violent clashes, and calls for urgent unhindered access to medical assistance, irrespective of any political considerations.

For the past three weeks, the MSF teams based on the Tunisian border and in Benghazi have been providing medical supplies to health facilities in Libya and actively working to access areas in the western part of the country, where violent fighting is taking place.

In several conflict zones, such as Zawiyah and Misrata, large numbers of people are cut off from any external assistance, while critical medical needs and shortages of medicine and materials are reported.

“We are deeply concerned with the denial of access to medical care and the plight of patients in public health facilities within government-controlled areas”, says Bruno Jochum, director of operations at MSF.

As an emergency medical humanitarian organization, MSF reaffirms the importance of being able to respond effectively to the people’s urgent medical needs, regardless of their side or origin.

“Our main challenge today is to gain immediate access to the people affected by violence inside Libya”, continues Bruno Jochum. “Despite ongoing intense fighting, our medical teams, which have been deliberately blocked at the Tunisian border in Ras Ajdir for weeks now, do not see any injured patients authorized to cross into Tunisia. It is essential that people have the possibility to flee combat zones to find refuge in safe areas inside Libya or abroad.”

Following medical ethics and international humanitarian law, it is crucial that all belligerent parties respect medical facilities, vehicles and personnel, as it is the only way patients will receive the urgent medical care they need.

MSF continues to assist the civilian population through the delivery of medical supplies in Libya. Since the first MSF team was able to enter eastern Libya on 24 February, twenty-two tons of medical supplies have been distributed in the areas where the most acute needs have been identified. Eleven more tons of medical materials are ready to be delivered where ongoing fighting has created supply shortages and needs.

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