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24.04.2011 Press Release

Libya: Water and other essential services under growing threat in Misrata

By International Committee of the Red Cross

Benghazi/Geneva (ICRC) – Hundred of thousands of civilians in Misrata have been caught up in ongoing fighting for seven weeks now. The humanitarian situation could rapidly deteriorate further and the lack of basic services such as water, electricity, food and medical care could turn critical.

"Access to water has become increasingly difficult for civilians since the main pipe to the city was cut," said Simon Brooks, ICRC head of mission in Benghazi. "People are now having to rely on local wells and on the desalination plant that was until recently used to produce water for industrial purposes."

"The scarcity of fuel is affecting the energy supply for essential infrastructure and for domestic use," said Mr Brooks. The health-care situation has deteriorated, with reported increases in the numbers of wounded and killed. The main hospital in Misrata is having difficulty coping with the influx of patients and is suffering from a shortage of medicines, mainly those used for chronic diseases.

The ICRC, which has access to Misrata from both Benghazi and Tripoli, is stepping up its operational response in order to provide assistance for those most affected by the fighting. In the past two days, an ICRC team has distributed three cubic metres of medical supplies to Al Hikma Hospital. In addition, 150 hygiene kits, 20 cubic metres of food and 8,000 litres of water have been handed over to the Libyan Red Crescent Society and distributed in cooperation with their volunteers.

ICRC delegates also visited a number of detainees held in connection with the recent fighting and collected "safe and well" messages from civilians to be delivered to their families in Libya and abroad.

This morning, for the second time, an ICRC-chartered boat arrived in Tobruk with around 600 civilians on board who had been evacuated from Misrata yesterday. Most of the evacuees are from Niger, Egypt and Libya. The ICRC stands ready to carry out more evacuation operations if necessary.

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