(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
The ER at Misrata Central Hospital Receives three wounded soldiers on June 4 following heavy clashes with ISIS militants
The UN-backed Government of National Accord’s (GNA) military operation against ISIS in the coastal city of Sirte has progressed much faster than anyone anticipated. However, while Albinyan Almarsous (Operation Strong Foundation) forces have made significant advances against the extremist group, they have incurred heavy losses along the way, with nearly 180 soldiers killed and over 500 wounded in battle.
Officials from Misrata Central Hospital, where the majority of wounded soldiers battling against ISIS in Sirte are sent to get treated for their injuries, have repeatedly stated that the hospital is unequipped to receive the wounded as it lacks the necessary medical supplies and the space to care for the large influx of patients.
“The wounded here at Misrata hospital are in a very bad state. The hospital care rooms are at full capacity, the private hospitals are also at full capacity,” a medical official in Misrata, Malek al-Qualaib, told Reuters.
Abdul-Aziz Essa, a spokesman for the hospital has said that the hospital staff has resorted to turning some corridors into rooms to accommodate for the large number of wounded soldiers.
While the hospital has received various local and international donations of medical supplies and medical equipment to treat those injured in battle, it still lacks the resources, space and skilled staff to treat the large number of wounded fighters arriving daily, with many staff being called on to work overtime.
Misrata Central Hospital receives a shipment of IV’s and medical assistance and quantities of blood, donated by residents of the city of Zuwarah
In addition, two weeks ago, Turkey and Qatar both provided medical supplies to hospitals across Libya, with Turkey delivering 10 tons of food and medical supplies to the Presidential Council, and Qatar sending 12 tons of medical resources to aid Libyan hospitals.
“The hospital is still suffering from acute shortages of medicines and medical equipment despite all the calls made repetitively over the last period of time and the contacts made with a number of state institutions and relevant organizations in Misrata,” said Essa.
As Libyan troops have now encircled ISIS militants within a 15 kilometre area inside of Sirte, the swift progress they were making against the extremist group has been hampered by a myriad of suicide bombers, mines, booby-trapped vehicles and ISIS snipers positioned on rooftops in densely populated neighbourhoods.
“Right now we have advanced into the city, but we’re dealing with ISIS with extreme caution,” Mohamed al-Ghasri, a spokesperson for the operations room, told The Daily Beast.
“It was a war with planes and artillery, but now it is street fighting,” said a Libyan soldier to AFP. “We are fighting between houses, on the streets, and we won’t back down before we eliminate them.”
Over 150 injured fighters who have been seriously wounded in battle have been airlifted out of Libya to receive medical treatment in Italy, Turkey, Tunisia, and Algeria, however the departure of some wounded fighters had been delayed or prevented because they had not been given visas, Essa said.
According to Reuters, there had been delays because of problems getting permission for flights into European air space and because of lack of funding for evacuating the wounded.
Air ambulance used to transport injured fighters to hospital to receive treatment
The GNA has called on the international community to help provide more medical assistance to Libyan soldiers injured in the battle against ISIS, especially since European countries are relying on unity government forces to eradicate the ISIS threat.
“We would like to see more of our friends and allies in Europe offering help,” said Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq in May.
With Libya’s war-ravaged hospitals already over-stretched, the GNA is hoping that since all European countries would benefit from the defeat of ISIS on the continent’s southern flank, they should also help shoulder the burden.
“We appeal to the international community and international organizations to help us in providing necessary medical treatment for the wounded,” Essa stressed.
Libya’s ongoing political conflict has greatly affected the country’s healthcare system, with Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) reporting in early May that 60 per cent of hospitals closed and many are operating on a reduced schedule due to a lack of resources and experienced staff.
The Libyan health care system greatly depended on foreign doctors and nurses who left in large numbers once the civil war began in 2014.