Britain to provide emergency evacuations and medical aid for Libya

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Britain is to help 5,000 people trapped in Misurata escape the besieged city and will provide vital medical assistance to those who remain in towns across western Libya, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell announced from New York today.

The emergency evacuations will be carried out by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and will get foreign workers who have managed to reach Misurata's port safely out of the town. Britain will also fund International Medical Corps (IMC) to provide critical medical aid for those caught up in the violence across western Libya. The IMC will:

send in five-person volunteer surgical and trauma teams to medical facilities; provide medical supplies including antibiotics and analgesics, bandages and first aid kits and surgical equipment, to treat the wounded and for other general medical care needs, as well as food supplies for hospital patients; provide emergency evacuations for the most severely sick and injured to Benghazi and other facilities outside of Libya if necessary. Andrew Mitchell is in New York today to meet with leading figures in the United Nations, including UNICEF, UNDP, the Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs and other senior diplomats, to consider what more can be done to relieve the suffering of people living in flashpoints across Libya. Mr Mitchell will use his visit to discuss plans for better access for aid, medical supplies and other humanitarian assistance, and to consider how to speed up crucial transit times.

British International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said:

"I am determined that Britain continues to provide help to those innocent civilians who are caught up in the ongoing violence. Thousands of foreign workers have managed to reach the port but find themselves at terrible risk from incoming fire, with no way to get out. These evacuations will take them to safety and help reduce the demand in Misurata for the very limited supplies of food, water and medical supplies available.

"In conflict-affected areas across western Libya, there's a shortage of doctors - most have no training in war surgery - few nurses, overwhelmed staff, and weak or non-existent post-operative care. British support will mean medical supplies and highly-trained teams get into the worse-hit areas, which could mean the difference between life and death for many people."

Medical personnel in western Libya report a shortage of supplies and staff. There is concern that medical facilities are operating at maximum capacity and some severely injured people require urgent evacuation.

The IMC will assess areas in greatest need of medical help on a rolling basis, and medical teams and emergency supplies will be deployed accordingly. Medical support will help those affected by the fighting, including those made sick as a result of having been driven out of their homes and without sufficient shelter, food, water or sanitation. It will also help those with long-standing health needs or chronic illnesses such as diabetes.

International Medical Corp's Vice President for International Operations, Rabih Torbay, said:

"Britain's support for the International Medical Corps programme in Libya has been provided at a critical time and will enable life-saving emergency medical care and supplies to be delivered to the most vulnerable populations in Libya.

"Our doctors estimate that they will be able to provide lifesaving care to at least 30 severely wounded people a day, and provide essential health care to hundreds more on a daily basis."

For more information, contact Chris Kiggell, tel. 020 7023 0504 or 0600, email: Notes to editors To date, the UK has:

Funded crucial medical and emergency food supplies for the besieged town of Misurata. These UK aid funded supplies to UNICEF included medicine for 30,000 people, high energy protein biscuits for 10,000 children and adults, water purification kits for 2,000 families, hygiene kits for 2,000 families to help prevent the spread of germs, obstetric and midwifery kits for 200 births and books and toys for 3,750 children; Sent tents to provide emergency shelter for more than 10,000 people inside Libya who have been driven out of their homes by fighting, particularly around the Ajdabiya area; Funded the International Committee of the Red Cross, which is providing support for up to 100,000 people for basic necessities, and medical supplies and treatment to 3,000 people affected by the ongoing fighting in Libya; Helped fly more than 12,700 migrant workers trapped on the borders back to their home countries to help avoid a logistical problem becoming a humanitarian crisis; Provided tents for 10,000 people and blankets for 38,000 people stuck at the borders, which can be potentially life saving during cold desert nights; Helped the Egyptian and Tunisian Red Crescent Societies working at the borders to reconnect families that were separated whilst fleeing from Libya;
Convened 37 world leaders in London to discuss Libya's future, which lead to the UN's announcement that it would lead and co-ordinate the world's humanitarian response to Libya.