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U.S. Aid Has Been Reaching Libya, U.S. Officials Say

Though safety concerns have prevented U.S. disaster experts from entering Libya and seeing the situation first-hand, State Department officials said Monday that U.S. partners have been dispensing aid, CNN reports.

At a press briefing, Nancy Lindborg, assistant administrator of USAID, “said the U.S. is working with the United Nations and private organizations to provide urgently needed supplies inside Libya,” according to CNN, which notes that most of the aid is being directed to eastern Libya, which is controlled by rebels fighting Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. 
 
“One of the greatest concerns inside Libya is, first of all, health needs, both urgent and just the regular primary health care needs, and ongoing food security challenges, which is why the emphasis for work inside Libya has been on the health and on food security needs,” Lindborg said. U.S. aid being sent to Libya includes two emergency health kits, which provide basic health supplies for 10,000 people over three months, she said, emphasizing that the U.S. has been “for some time now providing assistance directly inside of Libya.” 

“I think we can say with a high degree of confidence that the assistance that has gone in is going to good use,” said Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees, and Migration Eric Schwartz, who recently traveled with Linborg to Libya’s border with Tunisia where thousands fleeing Libya have gathered (Keyes, 3/14).

“We’re fully prepared, and we’ll go as soon as the security situation permits us to do so,” Lindborg said of whether the U.S. will directly enter the country, Agence France-Presse writes (3/14).

U.K. News Conference Highlights Poor Medical Situation In Libya

BMJ News reports on a recent press conference in London where Libyan doctors and international health advocates said Gaddafi’s forces have carried out “assaults on sick and wounded people and on health professionals and have prevented urgently needed medical supplies from entering the country.”

Hospitals in Libya were “extremely badly equipped to start with” and “all sources of supply had been halted because the government refused to allow any medical aid from outside,” Ahmed Sewehli, a psychiatrist with Libyan Doctors’ Relief, said, adding that hospitals are “desperately lacking in the supplies most needed to treat the victims of violence,” such as anaesthetics, antibiotics, painkillers, and ventilators.

According to Physicians for Human Rights, witnesses have reported “unconscionable acts,” including the “shooting and killing of patients and fighting inside hospitals and clinics and from medical vehicles,” BMJ News writes (Moszynski, 3/14).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.