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Libya: more medical assistance reaches Sirte

03-10-2011 News Release 11/205

Tripoli/Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) provided urgently needed oxygen and other medical supplies for the hospital in Sirte on 3 October.

"Oxygen has to be available to perform surgery on war-wounded patients in good conditions," said Hichem Khadraoui, the ICRC delegate in charge of the operation. "Oxygen was desperately needed in the hospital. It can save lives."

ICRC staff crossed the front line with a fully loaded truck from the west side of Sirte. Fifty oxygen cylinders and other items required for hospital care were handed over to medical staff and representatives of civil society. A Dutch nurse who had been working in the hospital was evacuated in an ICRC vehicle.

"The situation on the ground was very tense with ongoing fighting," said Mr Khadraoui. "Under such conditions, we had to limit ourselves – after obtaining clearances from all the parties concerned – to bringing in the most urgently needed humanitarian aid without further assessing needs. We hope to return soon."

The oxygen and other items reached Sirte two days after the ICRC had provided the city's hospital with urgently needed surgical supplies, body bags and fuel for the generator. In the meantime, together with the Libyan Red Crescent, the ICRC continues to provide food and other items for thousands of people who fled Sirte to the east and the west and decided to stay nearby, often in difficult conditions.

"The ICRC reminds those fighting on the ground as well as NATO forces of their obligation under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and allow safe access for health-care and humanitarian personnel," said Georges Comninos, the head of the ICRC delegation in Tripoli.

For further information, please contact:
Soaade Messoudi, ICRC Tripoli, tel: +218 913 066 198 or +88 21 651 075 912
Dibeh Fakhr, ICRC Benghazi, tel: +870 772 390 124 (ext. 250) or +218 9 923 304 560
Steven Anderson, tel: +41 22 730 20 11 or +41 79 536 92 50