0735 GMT May 23, 2019
After a week of fighting, 75 people have been killed and 323 wounded, including seven civilians killed and 10 wounded, Dr. Syed Jaffar Hussain, WHO representative in Libya, told a Geneva news briefing by telephone from Tripoli, Reuters reported.
The WHO has delivered trauma kits and medicines to hospitals, he said, adding: “These supplies will last for two weeks, the acute phase.”
So far 6,000 have fled the fighting but WHO has contingency plans in case “thousands if not hundreds of thousands” are displaced in the acute phase of fighting.
Fighting shakes Tripoli
Gunfire and blasts echoed through Libya’s capital on Friday as eastern forces fought troops of the internationally recognized government in southern Tripoli suburbs, forcing thousands of civilians to flee their homes.
The Libyan National Army (LNA) of Khalifa Haftar advanced on the coastal city a week ago in the latest conflict of a cycle of anarchy since the 2011 overthrow of former leader Muammar Gaddafi.
But armed groups loyal to Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj have so far kept them at bay, with fierce fighting round a disused former airport about 11 km (seven miles) from the center.
As the sound of fighting echoed round their city, residents sought to maintain some normality on Friday.
Some families were having breakfast in cafes next to the fish market where people were stocking up for the weekend.
As well as the humanitarian cost, the conflict threatens to disrupt oil supplies, increase migration across the Mediterranean to Europe, scupper a UN peace plan, and allow terrorists to exploit the chaos.
Haftar, 75, a former general in Gaddafi’s army who later joined the revolt against him, moved his troops out of their eastern stronghold to take the oil-rich, desert south earlier this year, before sweeping up to Tripoli at the start of April.
But Serraj’s government has managed to halt the advance, helped by armed groups with machineguns on pickups and steel containers across the road into Tripoli.
The United Nations, which had hoped to organize a national conference this month bringing the rival eastern and western administrations together to organize an election, has called for a cease-fire. The United States, G7 bloc and European Union have also urged the LNA to halt its offensive.
Haftar has so far resisted UN pressure to accept a power-sharing settlement, using his leverage as an ally of the West in attempts to stem terrorists in North Africa.
Thousands of migrants, mainly Syrians and other Africans, are trapped in squalid detention centers in Tripoli as the fighting approaches.
Libya is a major transit point for migrants pouring into Europe in recent years, mostly trafficked by smuggling gangs.
“Refugees and migrants trapped in detention centers in #Libya are completely dependent on authorities and the humanitarian actors for basic services,” tweeted aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders).
“There are reports that some in detention centers have not eaten in days ... #Libya is not a place of safety. The #EU cannot continue to turn its back on vulnerable individuals fleeing the country.”