Libya: Situation in Sirte "Dire" Says International Red Cross

Photo: Fred Abrahams/Human Rights Watch
Unmarked graves in a Tripoli cemetery.

The International Red Cross has warned of a medical emergency in the Libyan town of Sirte, the stronghold of former leader Moamer Kadhafi, after it entered the town on Saturday to deliver much needed supplies to medical staff.

The ICRC has been trying for weeks to deliver supplies to the coastal city which has been under siege by National Transitional Council forces, NTC, who are battling Kadhafi diehards. It had wanted to bring medical supplies by boat to the port city, but abandoned the idea because of security concerns.

ICRC leader Hichem Khadhraoui described the situation in Sirte as "dire' and said he had been told that people at the Ibn Sina hospital were dying because of a lack of oxygen and fuel for the generator.

He added other wounded or ill could not get to the hospital because of the fighting and Nato airstrikes.

Hundreds of people are fleeing the city as the fighting continues. A rocket attack killed two children on Saturday as their family joined the exodus from the Sirte.

On Friday, NTC troops captured the airport. Forces from the east and west of the country are moving against the city and are trying to launch co-ordinated attacks against the Kadhafi loyalists in the city centre.

East of Sirte on Sunday, NTC fighters returning from the front said they had captured a neighbourhood in the southwest of the city which was home to many Kadhafi loyalists.

The towns of Sirte and Bani Walid are the last to offer resistance to NTC fighters.

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