Alrassed International Humanitarian Newsletter January 2017
Armed Libyan forces must allow humanitarian aid to reach Sirte
by Abdulbaset A Etbiga
All parties in Libya’s armed conflict must act to spare civilians and ensure that urgently needed supplies can be delivered safely to Sirte, Alrassed International is concerned that the humanitarian situation in the coastal city is swiftly deteriorating.
Since the beginning of 2016 Alrassed has been working with residents and community leaders to understand the situation in the city, which was presented in its report
“Addressing the Humanitarian crisis in Sirte,
Libya” 27 Aug 2016.
The International aid organisations have done little since 2014, when embassies and organisations fled the country due to the unstable political situation and the spread of murder and suicide missions in residential, governmental and foreign whereabouts by extremists and armed groups. Despite various programs run by UN organisations and other NGO’s aimed for Libya in general; the medical and non-medical aid fails every time to reach the residents fleeing the city or in its outskirts. However, what we found is that the aid by the organisations was handed to the armed forces in the city which then distributed in the way they pleased – and in the ethical point of view it is not the right conduct of humanitarian work to hand the supplies to armed forces (partners) that do not share the same humanitarian values or beliefs. What should have been done, if the international committee, the UNSMIL etc. are unable to carry the work themselves due to the security situation, is hand the supplies to independent parties and local NGO’s in the country.
After months of continues clashes the Misurata-led forces declared liberation of Sirte from IS. However, the residents are still displaced outside the city and are unaware of their faith. Forces in Sirte must take necessary safeguards to spare civilians and must immediately set up humanitarian corridors to ensure that urgently needed supplies can be delivered safely to Sirte residents.
We are told by our representative Mr Badar Mohamed that “meetings of officials assigned by both the eastern and western governments are held outside the country, and are not transparent in the outcomes of those meetings – leaving the residents and organisations like us unaware of the plans for the city and the faith of the displaced residents.”
A mayor for Sirte is to be elected on 12 December. The date has been chosen by the Central Committee for Municipal Council Elections (CCMCE). The city mayor is said to have proposed rehabilitation projects, with aims to return residents safe to their homes.
However, we spoke with Hamza (a father of two children) he told us that “there is no hope, we don’t think that they have a solution to what happens after the liberation, and my house is burned to the grounds”. A number of pictures from the violent clashes in the city has been brought to Alrassed International, showing almost entire neighbourhoods wiped-out by the heavy bombing and airstrikes.
“Have you heard one day someone went looking for his home and did not find it? I entered the city of Sirte looking for my house and it is no were to be found, maybe my home left with me as I fled the city. Every beautiful thing is gone, even the electricity, water and political stability is gone in my country.” Said Musbah AL-Sharif a resident of the city – during his search for his home after the fighting has calmed down.
All civilians who want to return to Sirte should be allowed to do so immediately in dignity and safety. Establishing humanitarian corridors would include setting up neutral zones and negotiated routes that are clearly defined to give humanitarian workers safe access to the sick and injured.
The civilians who remained in Sirte and its outskirts have been victimised by ongoing fighting and surviving on decreasing food, fuel and water supplies. Sirte’s main hospital,
Ibn Sina, reportedly came under attack on March 2015.
In a recent incident; on January 2017; Saad Idris Al-ba’ba tried to save his only daughter and treat her in Bani-Walid. His daughter who did not exceed the age of one year, caught a severe cold and high temperature as a result of the cold wave and power outages; and the only health centre in the village (Girza) has been long shutdown.
Unfortunately, the girl died in the road before reaching the city of Bani-Walid.
Health centres in the outskirts of the city can be essentially important and an alternative to provide health care services to residents, however, the majority are shutdown, and the rest are struggling to cope with the large numbers of casualties, and do not have the necessary supplies.
All those involved in the fighting have legal obligations to spare civilians by ending immediately the use of indiscriminate weapons like GRAD rockets, and not firing artillery and mortars into residential areas.
International humanitarian law prohibits the use of weapons that are inherently indiscriminate or which cannot be targeted at military objectives.
Alrassed received a video, on the 6th of August 2016, for a man said to be General Mohammed El-gasary “Head of Al-Bunyan Almarsus operations in Sirte”; Stated on the fifth of August 2016 on Misurata channel
“That we will not hesitate to destroy all the buildings of Sirte to ensure that none of our men is injured; even if it led to the destruction of all the buildings in Sirte, It does not concern us. A Fingernail of one fighter is not worth the 100 Building in Sirte.”