Dire food, medicine shortages in Libya conflict zone

Tue Mar 29, 2011 6:19pm GMT

* Humanitarian situation in Misrata "catastrophic" -rebel

* Aid workers limited by security situation in west

TUNIS, March 29 (Reuters) - Libyans are suffering dire shortages of food, water and medicine in areas caught up in the six-week-old civil war, above all in cities under siege from Muammar Gaddafi's forces, residents and aid workers say.

In Libya's third largest city Misrata, where forces loyal to leader Muammar Gaddafi and rebels continue to clash, the main hospital has been inundated with wounded and residents say water supplies and electricity have been cut off. Libyan officials deny deliberately cutting power and water to the city.

"The humanitarian situation is catastrophic. There is a shortage of food and medicine. The hospital is no longer able to deal with the situation," Sami, a rebel spokesman, said by telephone. "We call for urgent help to protect civilians and improve the humanitarian situation."

Aid agencies, based in the rebel-held east, were able to bring in supplies via Misrata's Mediterranean port last week but it is uncertain if they can deliver more because control over the port has seesawed between rebels and pro-Gaddafi forces.

"We are very concerned (about Misrata)," said Eman Moankar, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross operations in eastern Libya.

"The consequences of this fighting is a worry for us."   Continued...

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