Aid floods into Tripoli as fighting stops

Mon Aug 29, 2011 4:41pm GMT

By Tom Miles

GENEVA (Reuters) - Tripoli's hospitals have put the worst behind them after an end to the fighting in Libya's capital opened the way to a flood of aid and enabled medical staff to get back to work, aid agencies said on Monday.

In a rapid return to normality, even the notorious Abu Salim hospital, where 75 bodies were found after staff fled fighting in the area, is welcoming patients once again.

"This hospital has just reopened yesterday and it's beginning to function. It was cleaned up and everything is supposed to be in place now," said Robin Waudo, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Tripoli.

Last week agencies such as the ICRC, Medecins Sans Frontieres and the World Health Organisation said outside help needed to get into the city urgently to avoid a disaster, but it was too dangerous to venture onto Tripoli's streets.

"The worst has been avoided," said Oifa Bouriachi, deputy programme manager for emergencies at Medecins Sans Frontieres. "The situation is amazingly, and quickly, improving."

Waudo said the security situation was evolving and normalising as most of the city was now free of fighting.

"So what we see are more and more people coming out on to the streets. Shops are opening up and it's slowly possible for life to return to some sort of normalcy."

Although the violence in Tripoli has not completely ended, the relative peace has reassured aid agencies that they can now get into the capital, rescuing stranded foreigners and resupplying hospitals and relieving exhausted medical staff.   Continued...

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