Ships delivering aid blocked at Libyan port city

boat carrying supplies

boat carrying supplies

Humanitarians are struggling to evacuate injured civilians from the besieged city of Mistrata in western Libya. The conflict between government and opposition forces in the North African country continues unabated, deepening the humanitarian crisis.

Jocelyne Sambira reports.

Misrata, a rebel stronghold in western Libya has been under intense shelling by Libya’s government forces since Saturday, blocking the delivery of aid and other medical supplies to civilians.

The port city has been an important lifeline for the delivery of aid to the troubled western region.

The Red Star One, the latest boat charted by the International Organization for Migration is stuck at sea, waiting to rescue 1,000 stranded migrants and badly wounded civilians.

IOM’s Jumbe Omari Jumbe is calling for access to the port.

“Today is particularly very important because there are many injured civilians, some of them in intensive care and we have got reports that two of them have died actually while waiting to be evacuated. So we are appealing to all parties involved that is NATO and the Libyan authorities to allow the ship to dock so that we can evacuate these people who are around the port and further down the road.”

Stephen Andersen Spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross says attempts are also being made to reach Misrata by land:

“We are hoping to have next access to the city of Misrata hopefully later this week, especially to follow up on findings of the recent visit which they carried out on 21st of April and which looked at issues such as access to water, issues also related to electricity and the shortage of medicines.”

So far, 12,000 Libyans have fled the troubled city of Misrata.

Many more continue to flee the western region into Tunisia, says Adrian Edwards of the UN Refugee Agency, after a brief interruption last week caused by skirmishes between the Libyan Government and rebels.

“This past weekend, more than 8,000 people, most of them ethnic Berbers, arrived in Dehiba in southern Tunisia. Most were women and children. Their situation was being made worse by a violent stand storm that had battered the area. The storm had destroyed hundreds of tents and two huge portable warehouses.

Last week, fighting spilled over into Tunisia’s border town of Dehiba causing minor casualties. Its residents remain fearful of further skirmishes between government forces and rebels.

Edwards says UNHCR will give tents to the Tunisian authorities in case families need to be relocated from the border.

Meanwhile, more people have been fleeing the country by sea to Italy, most of them from Sub-Saharan Africa, bringing to over 8,000 the total number of arrivals into the European city.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 2’32”

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