Increased violence forces evacuation of Libyan Red Crescent offices, while volunteers continue saving lives

Publié: 25 novembre 2014 15:52 CET

By Soraya Dali-Balta, IFRC


For months, intense clashes have been ravaging different Libyan cities and putting the lives of thousands at risk. Recently, the violence has not spared the safety of Libyan Red Crescent Society staff and volunteers, who were forced to relocate to safer areas where they can continue carrying out their humanitarian activities.


The Libyan Red Crescent Society remains one of the very few humanitarian organisations that have been active on ground since the onset of the crisis in the country.


Earlier in November, the Libyan Red Crescent Society’s General Secretariat was forced to flee its offices in the Sidi Hussein region in the city of Benghazi because of ongoing nearby clashes, and move temporarily to the Benghazi Medical Centre. However, soon after, hostilities and the difficulty of moving from and to the Centre required another evacuation, and the General Secretariat then relocated to Qortoba School in Al Roueissat region where its Operations Unit has been sharing offices with that of the Libyan Red Crescent’s Benghazi branch.


In a related matter, the Ibn Sina Hospital of the National Society inaugurated its specialised clinics to provide first-aid services to emergency cases. The hospital treats between 300 and 400 cases on a daily basis.



“We moved from our permanent location to a temporary one, and then in less than two days, relocated again to a third place to be able to resume our humanitarian work,” said Mr Omar Ajaudah, the acting Secretary General of the Libyan Red Crescent.


Despite the escalation of violence in many Libyan cities in recent weeks, the Libyan Red Crescent did not give in to security threats as its volunteers continue responding to the needs of IDPs and evacuate families and individuals who were trapped in damaged buildings and isolated roads.


Dr Muftah Etwilb, Regional Representative of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in North Africa said: “We express our readiness and full support to the Libyan Red Crescent amid these difficult circumstances and continue with our partners in the Movement to support the National Society in its capacity to respond to the growing needs.”


The Benghazi branch of the Libyan Red Crescent Society has also relocated its blood bank centre from Sidi Hussein to Al Salmani area. The National Society’s blood bank is the only functioning centre of this nature in Benghazi, and it is known for providing hospitals in the region with needed blood transfusion. Meanwhile, volunteers in the Benghazi branch continue providing relief services and assistance to families affected by the unrest in the country.


Since early November, the volunteers have managed to evacuate more than 200 Libyan and foreign families, in addition to many foreign workers, from regions witnessing increased violence. This evacuation was only made possible after the Libyan Red Crescent mediated between parties to the conflict and reached an agreement on a ceasefire to secure a safe passage in the area. Also, a team of experts, trained by the ICRC, succeeded in retrieving dead bodies in different parts of the city.

Libyan Red Crescent volunteers continue offering medical and first-aid services to the residents and the displaced populations in Benghazi and have so far provided more than 1000 medical supplies.

As for the Tripoli branch, volunteers have distributed food supplies, drinking water, cooking utensils and blankets to 40 families in the internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camp in Kakleh, in addition to supporting the Crisis Committee in the city with medications and the necessary medical supplies. Food supplies were also distributed by Tripoli branch volunteers to IDPs in the cities of Qalaa and Warshefana.

In the city of Misrata, the National Society marked the World Diabetes Day on November 14, when it ran some medical tests targeting in particular illegal migrants in the country. And a workshop focusing on recovering bodies and handling them was offered to 15 volunteers in the city of Darnah, in addition to trainings on crisis management aimed at enabling the local team to become ready to respond to any emergency. Meanwhile ,the Libyan Red Crescent team in the coastal city of Tobruk has used ambulances to set up field first-aid positions to prepare for any unexpected development.


The IFRC and the ICRC are working with the Libyan Red Crescent in correspondence with their contingency plan. The IFRC has allocated a share of its contingency fund to deliver necessary food and non-food items to displaced and stranded families in Libya, and these have so far included 3,000 food parcels, 1,000 packages containing cooking pots, 2,000 blankets, 100 packages with first aid kits, in addition to 2,000 mattresses and several locally-procured generators. The programs aims at covering the needs of 20,000 people.