ICRC alarmed by situation in Libya, says fears worse


Health care and food supplies are deteriorating in Libya, but the Gaddafi government has managed to keep paying wages and food subsidies in areas under its control, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said yesterday.

The independent aid agency voiced concern that the humanitarian situation could deteriorate if fighting breaks out in the capital Tripoli.
“Frankly today we are in a situation where the ICRC is very alarmed by the situation, which is very dynamic and could become even more violent than today,” Paul Castella, head of the ICRC delegation in Tripoli, told a news briefing.
“It is very difficult to give an opinion of the future, we ourselves are preparing to respond to urgent needs if combat erupts because we see the frontlines keep moving and fighting is ongoing,” he said.

The ICRC is helping hospitals treat wounded from the frontlines in the Nafusa mountains areas southwest of Tripoli and has delivered surgical and other medical supplies to Misrata, it said in a statement.

A measles outbreak is also sweeping through Sabha in the south and has spread to Chad by nomads, according to Castella.

Essential medicines, vaccines and other emergency items are in short supply in Sahba and Murzuq, he said.
“There is no way the (Libyan) authorities can stop this epidemic,” he said. “It is not yet a tragedy but it might become one.”

The risk of a food crisis exists in most areas, according to Castella.
“We haven’t identified a food crisis in government-controlled areas…Every family receives food subsidies, which are of great value, for a month.”
“Government wages are still paid, including to those who are displaced, through the banking system. This still works.”