Humanitarian Health Action

Libya: civil unrest


26 February 2011 -- The Ministry of Health in Libya reports, through WHO couple of days ago that at least 290 people have died since the unrest started. The total numbers of injured are unknown, but 1000 are reported to be wounded in Benghazi alone. Basic necessities such as food and fuel are reportedly in short supply, and there is a severe shortage of surgical consumables and blood transfusion bags.

WHO is preparing for the possibility of a worsening humanitarian crisis. The Regional Director has taken up negotiations with the Egyptian authorities for a humanitarian health corridor at the Saloum border in Egypt. Staff from WHO's Regional Office in Cairo joined by Egypt WHO Country Office team are participating in an inter-agency assessment mission that is evaluating the situation in Saloum.

Staff from the WHO Mediterranean Centre in Tunis have been seconded to the WHO country office in Tunisia. WHO Country Office in Egypt is working closely with partners especially Ministry of Health, Egyptian Red Crescent Society, Egyptian Medical Syndicate and Arab Medical Syndicate. WHO headquarters has deployed several staff to support operations in its Regional Office in Cairo, and has placed its staff on standby for urgent deployment. Other WHO Regional Offices are on standby to provide additional support.

The first WHO medical supplies already have reached Benghazi and there is direct contact with health professionals there. WHO has urgently dispatched additional supplies including surgical supply kits and trauma kits from stocks in Norway and the UN Humanitarian Response Depot in Brindisi, Italy. These supplies are expected to reach the border in Saloum early next week.