Italy gives details of planned Libya military hospital

2016-09-13 19:54
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Rome - Italy is to build a 50-bed military field hospital to treat injured Libyan government forces in the conflict-wracked north of the country, ministers said on Tuesday.

The hospital will be built at Misrata airport and will be protected by a unit of 100 troops.

"We are planning to deploy around 300 people, 65 doctors and nurses, 135 logistics staff and 100 for the protection of the hospital," Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti told a hearing of the parliamentary committee for defence and foreign affairs.

A C-27 transport plane is to be stationed at the airport in case of a need for emergency evacuations and an Italian warship will provide further security back-up from just off the Libyan coast, Pinotti said.

The minister said the Italian contingent would be operational immediately but gave no timetable for having the hospital up and running. Italy was acting on a request made by Libya's UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) on August 9, she added.

Cycle of conflict 

Italy, which has offered to lead a UN-backed peace force into its former colony when conditions on the ground allow, has recently evacuated and treated a number of GNA-loyal fighters who suffered serious injuries during an offensive against Islamic State jihadists in the city of Sirte.

As well as trying to eliminate the ISIS contingent in Sirte, the GNA is facing a new challenge to its authority from a rival administration based in the east of the country and backed by military strongman General Khalifa Haftar.

Forces operating under Haftar on Monday took control of a key Mediterranean oil port, after seizing two others at the weekend.

The move has raised fears Libya could be on the verge of a new cycle of conflict with analysts saying Haftar is taking advantage of the GNA forces being exhausted by their efforts against ISIS.

Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said Haftar's seizure of the oil ports was "negative because it damages the process of stabilising Libya".

He said Italy was working with the United States to promote dialogue on national reconciliation including Haftar.



Read more on:    isis  |  libya  |  italy  |  north africa

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