Libya – Update March 8

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to look into means of delivering more medicine and supplies, by road or by boat, to areas affected by violence

Since the first MSF team was able to cross the Egyptian border into Libya on 24 February, MSF has been assessing the situation in various medical facilities in Benghazi and surrounding areas like Brega and Ajdabiya, as well as donating medical supplies.

So far, MSF has delivered 22 tons of medical equipment and supplies to Benghazi, including drugs, burn kits, dressings, sutures, and external fixators to the Benghazi central pharmacy. Currently, 11 more tons of supplies are on the way to Benghazi, ready to be dispatched to areas where the ongoing fighting has created supply shortages and needs.

The MSF team continues to try and access Ras Lanuf and other areas further into western Libya, but insecurity and fighting continue to make such assessments impossible.

On 3 March, a surgical team visited the only hospital in the town of Ajdabiya, approximately 160km from Benghazi. On 2 March, 30 wounded people were admitted there, of which 11 died. In general, the hospital was able to deal with the influx of patients and the needs were covered at the time of the visit.

When fresh clashes west of Ras Lanuf generated another wave of wounded in Ajdabiya hospital,  an MSF operating-theatre nurse spent the night in the surgical ward assisting with 10 surgical interventions on patients who were all suffering from gunshot wounds. In total 50 wounded were received that day in Ajdabiya hospital.

Access to areas further west is still extremely difficult, while medical doctors in a number of locations have requested MSF's support. MSF is working on delivering more drugs and supplies. On 6 March an MSF team headed for Ras Lanuf was unable to continue due to high insecurity.

On the Western side of Libya, an MSF team has been deployed at the Tunisia-Libya border since 23 February, ready to send medical staff and supplies as soon as the border opens.

Approximately 94,000 people have fled Libya through the border with Tunisia over recent days. Since 3 March, the flow of people crossing the border has declined, from 8,000 to 14,000 people per day to around 2,500 people per day, on average.

While most of the migrants’ needs are being met, MSF launched on 4 March a mental health care programme, as many of these people have either witnessed or suffered various forms of violence whilst in Libya, and face great uncertainty for their immediate future.

MSF is monitoring the situation from the border and is prepared to provide medical-humanitarian assistance at the border. Wounded people are reportedly not allowed out of Libya and very few cases of wounded people crossing the Tunisian border have been reported, while medical teams and supplies are blocked on the Tunisian side of the border. MSF is currently looking at all ways to send more medicine and medical supplies to meet the needs expressed by medical staff inside western Libya.