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Supplying Misrata’s Hospital is the Key to Winning the Battle Against ISIS in Sirte

(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)

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Mohammed Abu Grin, a GNA backed fighter, was injured from a landmine explosion. (AFP)

Misrata’s Central Hospital, the city’s only hospital, has been overflowing as Libyan forces fighting ISIS in Sirte suffer losses from a car bomb attack earlier this week.

Misrata, Libya’s third largest city, has been the main source of resources for the Libyan forces backed by the unity government (GNA) fighting ISIS in Sirte. Misrata hospital’s resources have been exhausted by the overwhelming demand of medical attention needed by injured GNA loyal soldiers.

Beds crammed the hospital’s entrance and were reserved for GNA loyal soldiers injured during the battle in Sirte.

The hospital receives a daily surge of casualties of soldiers with severe shrapnel and bullet wounds while also trying to keep its doors open to Misrata’s residents.

The Hospital is struggling to operate with only 120 beds and a medical team that is missing many members.  

“One day we treated 160 wounded,” said Akram Gilwan, a spokesperson for the hospital.

“Where should we put them? What should we do? We have to cope with the limited space and staff we’ve got.”

According to medical sources, the battle against ISIS in Sirte began around three months ago taking the lives of over 350 GNA soldiers and wounding close to 2,000.

The hospital is about 190 kilometres away from the battlefield.

One of the hospital’s patients, Mohammed Abu-Grin, was injured after a mine blew up in a booby-trapped house in Sirte which his unit was clearing.

“My brother was leading the group. He saw a thin wire connected to a mine and realised that the house was booby-trapped,” said Abu-Grin. “As he turned to leave he stepped on a mine that he hadn’t seen. It blew up, killing him and wounding us.”

General Mohamad Ghassri, a spokesperson for the GNA forces, said to AFP that the hospital’s over exhausted resources is “one of the reasons the battle’s end has been delayed.”

“We have to clear some of the wounded from the hospital before we can start with a new offensive,” said Ghassri.

Gilwan said the delays are allowing ISIS fighters to set-up booby-traps and mines that are hard to notice and result in many soldiers losing their limbs.

“The situation on the front depends entirely on the situation at Misrata Central Hospital, because of the strain on the medical team and our limited bed space,” said Gilwan.

Gilwan said Misrata’s hospital took in 97 wounded fighters on Wednesday. He made a plea to the international community to help the hospital treat the wounded.

40 patients were moved to private clinics after surgeries to receive further treatment.

Since the hospital has been low on staff it has resorted to volunteers to assist in patient care and operating the hospital.

Ali Khalil has been volunteering with the hospital for the last two months.

“I am a biology teacher but I decided to volunteer as a nurse. I haven’t slept for 24 hours,” said Khalil.

Many students in Misrata studying medicine, dentistry and nursing have been volunteering at the hospital said Gilwan

“They have classes and exams, but they are working full shifts here, day and night,” Gilwan said.

Martin Kobler, the UN’s envoy to Libya, went to see the hospital in May and shared pictures he took of the hospital beds and the lobby on Twitter.

“It’s shocking to know that the hospital has very limited capacity & they (are) using the reception hall for lack of space,” tweeted Kobler. “If we wait for bureaucracy, people will die.”

Not much has changed since Kobler posted those tweets two months ago.

“We have many cases of amputations… our problem is not temporary – the war is going to end, but we will still need physiotherapy and psychotherapy,” said Gliwan.

Ghassri thanked those who have supported the hospital, such as Qatar and Italy, but said the hospital continues to be in dire need of more resources.

“The battle is not easy and a single hospital cannot meet its needs,” explained Ghassri.

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