Amid Allegations of Rape Being Used as a Weapon of War in Libya, International Medical Corps Steps Up Efforts to Address Needs of Survivors

News and Press Release
Originally published

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Margaret Aguirre

Director, Global Communications


May 5, 2011, Los Angeles, Calif. – Amid reports that troops loyal to Libyan Col. Muammar Qaddafi may be waging a campaign of rape against women, International Medical Corps has stepped up its training of local psychiatrists, psychologists and nurses in the provision of psychological first aid for survivors.
International Medical Corps prioritizes the provision of mental health services during emergencies, and its teams for the Libya response have already trained approximately 100 frontline health care workers on psychological first aid services. In addition, they have conducted gender-based violence awareness and sensitivity training for local health workers to support survivors of sexual assaults.

Meantime, International Medical Corps continues to address critical shortages of humanitarian supplies throughout the country, as well as deliver medical care in cities such as Benghazi that are receiving large numbers of casualties evacuated from Misurata in western Libya. In response to an increasing number of amputee victims, it is working to establish a rehabilitation center in Benghazi to provide ongoing medical services. It is also helping support specialized clinics in Libya, including the procurement of needed antiretroviral and TB medications with assistance from International Medical Corps’ network of gift-in-kind partners.

Teams are also responding to potential further cases of Nosocomial Acinetobacter infection (a hospital-acquired infection that causes pneumonia), as two cases have been confirmed in Benghazi Medical Center. The infection was found to be multi-resistant to most conventional antibiotics and sensitive only to Colistin, which is in short supply. International Medical Corps is now working to procure more of the antibiotic.

In western Libya, where the situation remains critical and many are being killed and injured daily, International Medical Corps is providing emergency care including intensive and surgical care in Misurata. In addition, teams are working to evacuate casualties by boat to facilities in Benghazi and to send in vital medical supplies to hospitals, including trauma and surgical kits. In addition, International Medical Corps has delivered shipments of medicines and food supplies, including more than 10,000 kilos in food aid. The team is also preparing to deliver additional supplies to Misurata, Zintan, Nalut and the Western Mountain region which are in dire need of chemotherapy drugs, consumables, infusions, anesthetics, analgesics and ICU beds.

At the Tunisia-Libya border, International Medical Corps had medical teams on standby over the weekend due to heavy fighting. They provided emergency services to those injured as a result of the conflict at the Dehibat Hospital, and are also running a health post at another transit camp so that evacuees have immediate access to medical care upon leaving Libya. The health post is also providing health education, and International Medical Corps nurses are regularly visiting all camps along the border to distribute materials on a variety of topics, such as personal hygiene and diarrhea. The team in Tunisia will continue to focus on procuring and sending essential supplies into western Libya and has supplies prepositioned to send to Nalut and Zintan as soon as possible.

Since the conflict began in late February, more than 710,000 people have fled the violence to neighboring countries, primarily Tunisia and Egypt, where International Medical Corps has been providing ongoing care.

For more than 25 years, International Medical Corps has responded to the needs of those displaced by conflict, such as the 1994 Rwandan genocide and 1998 ethnic cleansing and conflict in Kosovo. International Medical Corps is currently working inside Iraq and throughout Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon to support displaced Iraqis, and assists refugees from Darfur on the Sudan/Chad border. In Pakistan, International Medical Corps is supporting the millions displaced by conflict and the recent flooding. For more information visit Also see us Facebook and follow us on Twitter.