A report issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Libya revealed that Libya is ranked fourth in the world in terms of attacks on medical facilities. This indicates the depth of the health crisis in the country.
For nearly a decade, Tripoli has witnessed a dire situation in the healthcare sector. The militias controlling western Libya have targeted the healthcare system in its entirety. This includes doctors, nurses, medical convoys and even the occupation of hospitals and health facilities.
The health sector in western Libya suffers from daily attacks, enforced disappearances, and illegal seizures, prompting the Libyan Doctors’ Syndicate to condemn the Government of National Accord (GNA) headed by Fayez Al-Sarraj. The latest of these crimes is the kidnapping of Dr. Saddiq bin Dallah, one of the most famous orthopaedic surgeons in the country, two weeks ago.
The UN report said that armed militias have put more pressure on the already faltering healthcare system in Libya. It reported 32 attacks in 2020, across Tripoli. In November, a number of attacks were reported against health facilities and health workers.
Since the beginning of 2020, roughly 18,000 foreign mercenaries have been sent by Turkey to Libya. Observers confirmed that they have contributed significantly to the difficult medical situation in the country.
According to several reports, Syrian and foreign mercenaries were behind some of the attacks carried out on medical facilities and workers.
The UN report included the attack by armed militias on Bani Walid’s General Hospital, the isolation centre in Sabratha, and the stopping of an ambulance at a checkpoint near Misrata by gunmen who prevented it from reaching its destination.
OCHA confirmed that the ongoing assault by armed militias on health facilities and health workers results from the continuing insecurity, the absence of the rule of law, and the lack of respect for human rights in Libya.
These criminal practices, as well as a shortage of workers, power cuts, and a lack of personal protective equipment, have led to the closure of primary healthcare facilities. This has negatively affected citizens’ access to basic health services.
The Libyan Doctors Syndicate held the GNA responsible for Dr. bin Dallah’s disappearance, stressing that armed militias bypass the law, and exploit the fragility of the security system.
The syndicate indicated that the absence of deterrence, security, legal prosecution, and the lack of measures taken against perpetrators who remain unpunished make the abuse of medical personnel a repeated occurrence, which endangers the lives of medical staff. “The medical system will endanger the lives of patients and will contribute to creating an environment that repels medical elements and encourages the emigration of national talent abroad,” it said.
It called on the PM and the Interior Minister to quickly intervene and uncover the circumstances of the kidnapping of Dr. bin Dallah and secure his safe release.