Why are we there?

  • Armed conflict

Our work

This is an extract from MSF's 2012 International Activity Report:

In 2012, the people of Libya were still suffering the effects of the violent conflict of the previous year.

An MSF team began medical activities in detention centers in the city of Misrata in August 2011. Staff treated war wounds, carried out surgery and provided follow-up care such as physiotherapy.

However, doctors had been increasingly confronted with patients whose injuries had been caused by torture. After reporting 115 such cases, and with no concrete response from the authorities, in January MSF took the decision to suspend activities in the centers. 

Mental health support for residents of Misrata continued until March. More than 150 group counseling sessions were held to assist people’s recovery from the conflict.

Assisting the displaced in Tripoli

As the conflict in Libya came to an end, particular groups faced persecution. Gaddafi had recruited mercenaries from sub-Saharan Africa, and Tawergha had been used as a base for Gaddafi’s forces. Sub-Saharan Africans and members of the Tawergha ethnic minority began to seek refuge in camps in the capital Tripoli. MSF carried out basic health services and offered mental health support via mobile clinics in the camps until August.

MSF is negotiating with the new authorities to provide assistance in mental health care and help fill other gaps in health services in 2013.

At the end of 2012, MSF had 23 staff in Libya. MSF began work in Libya in 2011.

Patient stories

Abdul, 13 years old

Abdul suffered second-degree burns after a bottle of benzene caught fire when bombs hit the house next to his. Three days after receiving care in a Misrata clinic, he was evacuated to a Tunisian hospital. Ten days later, he could open his eyes again.

Ali, 45 years old

Ali had been diabetic for many years. During the fighting, he was unable to receive his treatment as Misrata hospital was overwhelmed with so many seriously injured patients that it could no longer care for the chronically ill. The interruption to Ali’s treatment caused skin lesions to appear on his feet. After his evacuation from Misrata, Ali had two toes and the front of one foot amputated.

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