Egyptian medics recount arriving in Libya under ‘avalanche of bullets’

Asmaa El-Husseini , Wednesday 4 May 2011

Egyptian medics witness catastrophic conditions in Libya and ask for help: Gaddafi’s brigades use cluster bombs and banned weapons; corpses are booby-trapped; food supplies have run out; civilians, hospitals are targets

bullet casings litter a street in the besieged city of Misrata (AP)

Egyptian doctors who returned from the hell of the city of Misrata in Libya, which has been under siege by brigades loyal to Libya’s Colonel Muammar Gaddafi for nearly one month, reported that conditions in the city are catastrophic. They also relay that food supplies have run out and the port there is under continuous attack, preventing any supplies from reaching the city. Meanwhile, Gaddafi’s brigades are targeting civilians, mosques, hospitals and ambulances with missiles and snipers, as well as random attacks using cluster bombs, banned weapons and booby-trap corpses in its war against unarmed civilians.

At a news conference sponsored by the Arab Doctors’ Union’s (ADU) Relief and Emergency Committee, attended by its director Dr Ibrahim El-Zaafarani, the Chairman of the Doctor’s Syndicate, Dr Hamdi El-Sayed praised the role of the ADU and “the heroic acts by Egyptian doctors who exerted a huge effort to save the lives of their brothers in dangerous locations in Libya and elsewhere.”

“We had hoped that Gaddafi would be reasonable and realise the dangers of his actions, and that he is in fact unwanted and leave,” stated Dr El-Sayed. “He is the one who made NATO forces interfere and has created a situation which could lead to the partition of Libya.”

El-Zaafarani said that sending aide to Libya requires a combined effort and that reality on the ground requires much more than what the ADU allocated for relief work in Libya, noting that LE8 million have already been spent out of the allotted LE11. He added that several organisations and countries have offered assistance in this endeavour, including sending mobile hospitals to solve the problems of remoteness in Libya and enable them to save the lives of patients who die because hospitals are too far away.

The ADU established three centres: Bengazi, Baydaa and El-Masaeed, and from the beginning has sent medical and food supplies to eastern regions. El-Zaafarani reiterated the ADU’s need for funds to be able to treat Libyan victims who are transported to Egypt and to send supplies to doctors and patients in Libya.

Drs Mahmoud Ibrahim, Mustafa Marwan and Sameh El-Saeed said they were able to reach Misrata via a Turkish vessel. They arrived to an avalanche of bullets, which did not distinguish between child, woman or old man and targeted civilians. The medics revealed that hospitals were severely deficient and that most of them had been destroyed. They reported that they operated on victims who were close to death under very harsh and difficult conditions, and at times had to operate on several patients at once in dim lighting and unfit locations. They added that food supplies in the city have run out, to the extent that their Libyan hosts were unable to give them breakfast on the last day – although Libyans are well known for their generosity.

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