1000s displaced by prolonged Libya fighting

Tripoli – Fighting in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi and in the west of the country has displaced tens of thousands since the summer and disrupted medical and health services, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Thursday.

Three years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya is struggling with instability as two rival administrations compete for power and competing armed factions skirmish for control of territory across the North African state.

Conflict in Benghazi between Islamist militias and forces who have sided with Libya’s internationally-recognised government in the east forced tens of thousands to leave the city and displaced more inside, the Red Cross said.

“Services at the main hospitals have been severely disrupted by the unsettled security conditions, the departure of foreign workers and the acute shortage of medical supplies,” said Antoine Grand, head of the Red Cross Libya delegation, who is based in Tunis.

The Red Cross said fighting to the south and west of Tripoli, in the western part of Libya, and in Sabha and Ubari in the south, is also displacing residents.

Conflict has caused frequent fuel, power and water shortages, increased food prices and damaged infrastructure. The Red Cross said deteriorating security also made it difficult for humanitarian organisations to reach victims.

Most foreign governments and international organisations pulled their staff and diplomats out of Libya over the summer when a faction called Libya Dawn drove rivals out of the capital and set up its own self-declared government in Tripoli.

Libya’s elected House of Representatives and the government of Prime Minister Abdullah Thinni is now operating out of the east.

The UN plans to hold talks to bring the two factions to the negotiating table.

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