04 Apr 11 28 Nov 16

Libya: MSF evacuates wounded by boat from Misrata


Country Year © Author/MSF

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) evacuated 71 patients by boat on Sunday 3 April from the Libyan city of Misrata, where ongoing violence has overwhelmed medical facilities with injured patients.

“We managed to dock at Misrata on Sunday afternoon, despite intense fighting in the city over the past few days” said Helmy Mekaoui, an MSF doctor who coordinated the medical evacuation. “The violence caused an influx of wounded people and it was fortunate we could be there and get them onboard”.

Severe war injuries

Among the evacuated patients were three people on life support, 11 people suffering from major trauma, and many others with abdominal wounds and open fractures. Intensive medical care was provided on board as the boat sailed to Tunisia.

The hospital in Misrata was reportedly bombarded early on Sunday morning, while the remaining functioning clinics are overflowing with severely injured patients and are desperately running short of medical supplies.

Donations of medical supplies

In Misrata, MSF donated six tons of emergency medical materials including 300 surgical kits sufficient to perform 1000 operations, drugs, sterilization materials, and intravenous fluid, to the Libyan Health Committee in Misrata.  These supplies will help health facilities in the city cope with the influx of war-wounded patients.

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The boat arrived early today at the port-city of Sfax, Tunisia and the patients were transferred to hospitals to receive urgent medical care.

The MSF medical team on board was composed of seven doctors, three nurses, and one psychologist, including seven Tunisian medical personnel who volunteered to be part of the operation. Upon arrival in Sfax, the Tunisian health authorities organized the transfer of the patients to a dozen medical facilities.

Thanks to their support as well as the efforts of the medical staff in Misrata who risked their personal safety, the evacuation and medical treatment of the patients was made possible.

The evacuation was carried out independently from all the parties involved in the conflict in accordance with the organisation’s principles of neutrality and impartiality.

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Access to medical care

As conflict continues inside Libya, MSF is scaling up its assistance to people affected by the violence, regardless of their affiliation or origin. The organization is reinforcing its teams on the ground, sending additional medical supplies, and facilitating the evacuation of wounded and sick patients. 

However, it remains very concerning that many injured people reportedly cannot safely access life-saving medical care without further risking their life.

MSF reiterates its call on all belligerents to allow unhindered access to medical assistance for all Libyans affected by the violence. MSF also calls for the respect of medical facilities, healthcare personnel, and vehicles transporting patients.