Geneva – The international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) evacuated its team from the western Libyan city of Zintan on Friday 27 May, following repeated shelling.
“The city centre has been shelled every afternoon over the last few days, with several rockets landing just 100 to 200 metres from the hospital,” said Dr Morten Rostrup, an intensive care doctor with MSF. Fortunately, no severe casualties occurred.
MSF started working in Zintan in March, and has worked there continuously since April. The team of five, including a war surgeon, an intensive care doctor and two nurses, has been supporting the hospital of Zintan for the past four weeks, managing the influx of wounded, following fighting between pro-Gaddafi troops and the insurgency in the Nafusa Mountain region.
Since 30 April, over 120 wounded have been admitted to the hospital. The MSF team has also provided training, medical equipment and medicines to the hospital.
Both in early April and in recent days, the MSF team has experienced indiscriminate shelling of the city by pro-Gaddafi forces.
“The recent shelling makes the hospital unacceptably unsafe and the MSF team can no longer work in the hospital,” explained Dr Rostrup. “We have had to remove our medical team from Zintan.”
Libyan families are reported to have fled Zintan and made their way over the Tunisian border at Dehiba. Since early April, more than 50,000 Libyans have fled the conflict and found refuge along the Tunisia-Libya border. Tataouine, a city of 60,000 people, has absorbed more than 30,000 refugees from Libya. MSF is providing medical care and mental healthcare to this refugee population, and supporting local health infrastructures to cope with the increase in medical needs.
MSF denounces the indiscriminate shelling of the city of Zintan and its consequences on the civilian population. MSF also calls for medical facilities to be respected, and medical personnel and vehicles carrying patients to be protected.
While the hospital is still running, MSF continues its provision of needed material. The team plans to return to Zintan as soon as the situation permits.