News24

Libya: Tripoli blocks MSF

2011-02-28 14:59

Cape Town - Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) on Monday said it had been blocked from entering the capital Tripoli in Libya for failure to produce entrance visas, which allowed them to operate legally in the country.

Speaking to News24, MSF’s emergency co-ordinator, Jean Pletinckx said while the medical team had managed to reach the city of Benghazi, it had been difficult to proceed into Tripoli which has been rocked by fierce fighting between rebels and Muammar Gaddafi's forces.

“Our team has managed to cross into Libya and is in Benghazi where there is no major need for medical support as most of the wounded have been taken care of by first aid teams. We’ve donated hospital equipment and medical supplies although most of the hospitals are well equipped.

"Tripoli is, however, a bit complicated to access because of visa requirements. But the news we are getting from our colleagues there is that most patients in Tripoli are recuperating from their homes for security reasons” said Pletinckx from the Brussels headquarters.

Since the onset of violent clashes in Libya on February 17, MSF has been trying to position emergency personnel and supplies into the country by any means possible, including by land and air.

Pletinckx said the MSF medical team of 10 was finding it difficult to offer effective assistance as it struggled with information pertaining to the number of people who needed assistance.

“The real difficulty we are faced with is to ascertain the number of people injured as we are still trying to figure out how to access hospitals, especially in Tripoli.

He, however, said the situation in Benghazi remained calm as people celebrated their victory against Gaddafi’s security forces.

“The situation in Benghazi is calm after the protesters managed to take control of the city but tension is still very high considering the attacks that killed hundreds of people in the past weeks,” he said.

Pletinckx said MSF was prepared to stay in Libya as long as their services remained essential. He added that another team was on standby in Egypt and was ready to cross into Libya if the need arose for them to do so.