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Libya: Red Crescent volunteers strive for access to people in need

02-08-2014 News Release 14/135

Benghazi/Tunis/Geneva (ICRC) – Concern is growing at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Libyan Red Crescent over the plight of thousands of people affected by intense fighting in Tripoli and Benghazi. Both organizations have renewed their efforts to assist the wounded and the displaced.

“Our volunteers are striving to respond to the most acute needs of people in areas where fighting is in progress," said Omar Jaouda, Secretary-General of the Libyan Red Crescent. "They have been working very hard to transport wounded people, remove dead bodies, and assist civilians. I should add that they are doing all this in extremely difficult conditions. We are trying to negotiate safe access for our teams with the parties involved in the fighting, which is proving to be no easy task."

The Libyan Red Crescent – one of the few humanitarian organizations present on the ground – has transported dozens of wounded people to hospitals, and carried away numerous dead bodies. It has also helped civilians to evacuate areas affected by the fighting and, in coordination with local authorities, provided medical and relief assistance for hospitals and displaced civilians. The ICRC has provided the Libyan Red Crescent with wound-dressing materials and hundreds of body bags since 15 July. It is also stepping up its efforts to assist displaced civilians.

"Dozens of people have been injured or killed since the outbreak of violence in Tripoli," said Antoine Grand, the head of the ICRC’s delegation in Libya, which is temporarily based in Tunisia. "We are extremely concerned about the plight of civilians in Tripoli, particularly those who have been displaced or trapped in their homes in the southern section of the city. The situation in Benghazi, where there has been a sharp rise in armed violence since May, is equally worrying."

The Libyan Red Crescent and the ICRC are urging all parties to take every possible precaution to spare civilian lives and infrastructure, and to ensure safe and unimpeded access for Red Crescent volunteers.

The ICRC will not abandon the victims of armed violence in Libya. Owing to deteriorating security conditions its international staff were moved to Tunis on 15 July, but they are expected to return as soon as the situation improves. The ICRC will, however, carry on working through its 130 locally based staff, and will also respond to emergencies, in cooperation with the Libyan Red Crescent and other local partners.

For further information, please contact:
Muhammad Mustafa Almosrati, Libyan Red Crescent, tel: +218 91 792 5570 (Arabic)
Omar Abu-Dabbus, Lybian Red Crescent, tel: +218 91 326 0021 (English)
Rabih Al-Fakih, ICRC Tripoli, tel: +216 23 32 53 14 (Arabic)
Antoine Grand, ICRC Tripoli, tel: +216 23 32 55 35 (English)
Jean-Yves Clémenzo, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 217 32 17