3,000 migrants trapped in risk zone in Libya, MSF

Food and water for 2 wks, 'disembark at safe ports'

19 April, 11:13

    (ANSAmed) - ROME, APRIL 19 - Thousands of Libyan families are fleeing and over 3,000 refugees and migrants are stuck in detention centers near the conflict.

    They ''remain at imminent risk of being caught in the crossfire'', Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said in a statement, and ''the provision of basic services including food and water remains extremely limited - with reports of many not eating for several days at a time''.

    There is limited healthcare available and medical supplies are expected to run out after less then two weeks, MSF warned, calling for measures to protect civilians, including medical workers, and civilian infrastructure. It asked that indiscriminate attacks on populated areas be avoided and that the over 3,000 refugees and migrants trapped in the detention centers near the fighting be evacuated. MSF called on EU Member States to find an agreement to disembark migrants in safe ports and to stop punitive actions to hinder humanitarian organizations working at sea.

    ''In Sabaa detention centre, as well as providing medical consultations, MSF teams have distributed a much-needed five-day supply of food rations, including fresh vegetables. Over recent days, approximately 200 people were moved from the Ain Zara detention centre, which is just 1.5 kilometres from the frontline, to Sabaa detention centre which is 6.5 kilometres from the frontline,'' the statement noted.

    ''With the new arrivals, the population size in Sabaa has surged to nearly 540 people, exacerbating already poor conditions and services. With a further 150 refugees relocated early last week to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Gathering and Departure Facility, Ain Zara detention centre is now believed to be empty,'' it added.

    ''While the numbers in each detention centre are subject to change daily, currently there are 135 people in Anjila detention centre which is 5.5 kilometres from the fighting. A few days ago, there were around 910 people in Abu Salim, 6.5 kilometres from the fighting. This detention centre is anticipated to be directly affected by conflict in the coming days,'' it said.

    MSF medical teams have also provided hygiene kits in several shelters for displaced families that had to flee their homes, as well as a donation of medical kits to treat war wounds (sutures, dressings and essential medication) to two hospitals so far, one in Tripoli and another south of the city.

    Elsewhere in the country ''MSF activities are continuing outside of Tripoli, where our teams are providing assistance to over 800 people arbitrarily detained in Khoms, Zliten, and Misrata. We also continue to carry out medical consultations in Bani Walid. We are concerned about a group of over 80 patients who were transferred about two months ago to a detention centre in Sirte, as we can no longer follow-up and treat these people, many of whom have serious medical conditions. All medical referrals to Tripoli hospitals organised by MSF teams from Khoms, Zliten, Misrata, Bani Walid or Sirte are no longer possible due to the current conflict.'' MSF noted that: ''One of the desperate options for Libyans and non-Libyans seeking to escape the fighting is the Mediterranean Sea. MSF is unable to verify if sea departures from Libya have increased since fighting began, however we do know is that seeking safety is not a crime, but a very real human response in the face of life-threatening circumstances such as today's conflict. In the vacuum of any dedicated search and rescue response in the Central Mediterranean, people's lives are significantly at risk at sea just as they are in Tripoli's conflict areas.'' Search and rescue capacity in the Central Mediterranean, its said, ''needs to be urgently increased, and anyone rescued at sea must be taken to a safe port as required by international law. This can only effectively happen if the European member states immediately agree on solutions to disembark survivors in safe ports, and put an end to punitive actions to curtail NGOs seeking to provide lifesaving humanitarian response at sea.'' (ANSAmed)
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