The humanitarian situation has greatly deteriorated around the Libyan capital Tripoli , where “densely populated residential areas are gradually turning into battlefields,” the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has said.
Hospitals are struggling with chronic shortages of medical supplies amid power outages and weakened water pumping stations, the aid agency said on Thursday, after three weeks of clashes around the capital between renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar’s eastern forces and troops loyal to the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).
“It is crucial that hospitals, medical facilities, health staff and vehicles transporting the wounded are allowed to carry out their activities safely,” the ICRC said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Twitter that 278 people have been killed in the last three weeks, while 1,332 others have been wounded.
Today WHO deployed two general surgeons and one vascular surgeon to another hospital near #Tripoli. WHO’s emergency medical teams are helping #Libya‘s frontline hospitals cope with the influx of wounded, who now number 1332. The death toll is 278. @OCHA_Libya
— World Health Organization in Libya (@WHOLIBYA) April 24, 2019
Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which is allied to a rival government in eastern Libya, has mounted an offensive on Tripoli but has so far failed to breach the city’s southern defences.
Southern suburbs and nearby villages have been heavily fought over and shelled, with territory regularly changing hands.
On Wednesday, the United Nations refugee agency evacuated 325 refugees from a detention centre on the southern outskirts of Tripoli.
UNHCR said in a statement on Wednesday those rescued from the Qasr bin Ghashir centre were transported to another detention facility in Az-Zawiyah, northwestern Libya, where they were “at reduced risk of being caught up” in ongoing fighting.
People running from clashes
About 3,000 refugees and migrants remain trapped in detention centres in Tripoli, according to the UN, and remain at risk from the “deteriorating security situation” around the capital. Many of the detainees fled war and persecution in their home countries.
Tripoli’s southern outskirts have been engulfed by fighting since the LNA launched an offensive on April 4 aimed at wresting control of the capital from the GNA, which is supported by an array of local militias.
The showdown threatens to further destabilise war-wracked Libya, which splintered into a patchwork of rival power bases following the NATO-backed overthrow of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and has been split into rival eastern and western administrations since 2014.
Both the LNA and GNA have repeatedly carried out air raids against one another and accuse each other’s forces of targeting civilians.
At least 36,000 people have been forced to flee their homes because of the conflict, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said on Wednesday.