Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is extremely concerned for the safety of civilians in Tripoli as escalating fighting forces thousands of Libyan families to flee their homes and seek shelter. We urgently call for the immediate evacuation of the more than 3,000 refugees and migrants trapped in detention centers who are at risk of being caught in the crossfire.
Civilians at risk
As of April 16, there have been 1,005 casualties—including 189 people dead and 816 wounded—according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Health workers and services have been affected by indiscriminate shelling and daily airstrikes, which have increased in densely populated areas over the past several days. Since the start of the conflict, two doctors and one ambulance driver have been killed, another doctor injured, and nine ambulances damaged or destroyed, according to WHO.
All measures must be taken to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, including by not carrying out indiscriminate attacks in highly populated areas. Medical personnel must be respected and protected in all circumstances.
Medical facilities both in and outside of Tripoli have reported limited capacity and less than two weeks of medical supplies remaining. Some civilians in the city have been without water and electricity for several days. For the more than 3,000 refugees and migrants currently trapped in detention centers in or near the conflict areas, the provision of basic services including food and water remains extremely limited, with reports of many not eating for several days at a time.
The fighting has also had a detrimental impact on the mental health of people in detention, with MSF teams observing a heightened sense of anxiety and fear among many patients, some of whom have reported hearing gunfire and airstrikes close by while trapped in the detention centers.
Trapped near the front lines
MSF medical teams have been on the ground in Tripoli since the start of the conflict, providing primary health care and emergency food, water, and medical referral services for refugees and migrants in four detention centers across the city. We have also delivered three-week supplies of essential medications for tuberculosis and other diseases to patients in detention centers to ensure that treatment continues amid the ongoing conflict.
MSF medical teams have also provided hygiene kits in several shelters for displaced families that had to flee their homes, as well as a donations of kits containing supplies for the treatment of war wounds (sutures, dressings, and essential medication) to two hospitals, one in Tripoli and another south of the city.
Over the past week, MSF teams provided medical consultations in the Anjila, Abu Salim, Sabaa, and Tajoura detention centers, and made two deliveries of potable water to Tajoura. While the local community has been providing food to detainees at the Tajoura centre, no permanent solution has been identified by the Libyan authorities, leaving MSF extremely concerned for the wellbeing of more than 600 people trapped inside.