Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Medics help in war-torn Libya -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

Humanitarian aid groups are doing their best to help out in war-torn Libya. Medecins Sans
Frontiers' head of mission has told AM that medical supplies are getting through but need to be
carefully rationed. He's also spoken about the challenges in maintaining health standards in the
refugee camps over the border in Tunisia.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: With still no sign of an end to the conflict in Libya, aid workers in the region
say the challenges for them just keep on coming.

It's hard to believe but some refugees who'd fled Libya are now returning to parts of the country
which have suffered the ravages of war.

While others are still living in crowded and sometimes unsafe conditions in the refugee camps along
the border in Tunisia.

Our reporter Simon Santow has been speaking to Michael Bates, the head of mission for the doctors
group, Médecins Sans Frontières.

MICHAEL BATES: We are involved in the political Zintan as well as Yefren. Yefren is actually free
from Gaddafi forces over the last three weeks.

It's still quite a ghost town as such, the town in the south does not have any electricity and
water is a bit of an issue so it's going to take some time for the population to feel comfortable
to go back.

SIMON SANTOW: And what is the work that the MSF is doing there?

MICHAEL BATES: We're doing at the moment we're doing surgical interventions. There are people who
are of course in the conflict or taking part in the conflict, people who are supporting Gaddafi and
not against the Gaddafi forces, so we're receiving all sorts of patients.

SIMON SANTOW: What particular injuries are your surgeons dealing with?

MICHAEL BATES: There are fragments of shrapnel or wounds caused by shrapnel that is also quite
those close to conflict. There are also people who are involved in gunfight who are coming with
various war wounds related to gunshots and bombing.

SIMON SANTOW: And the conditions in which they're working?

MICHAEL BATES: The conditions in where we are at the moment, it's quite secure, it's quite safe. In
the past we were in areas where shelling was quite apparent and it was quite concerning for us.

SIMON SANTOW: And the facilities and the medical supplies?

MICHAEL BATES: The supplies, they're coming through. There is an incredible amount of support from
the Diaspora and from the Tunisian people as well. It is amazing how much the Libyan people from
outside are trying to do as much as they can to support. Also other humanitarian agencies are doing
what they can to be involved.

SIMON SANTOW: So you are finding that you have adequate essential medical supplies to perform
surgery?

MICHAEL BATES: Supplies are coming through at sort of various stages but we are seeing gaps and
we're trying to fill those when we can.

SIMON SANTOW: Now you're speaking to me from the Tunisian side of the border. The refugee camps
there, I understand the picture there is pretty bleak.

MICHAEL BATES: We're covering different areas at the moment, there is a Libyan population who fled
places which are very insecure but also there are country nationals coming from mostly sub-Saharan
Africa. They've had a particularly hard time not only in places and some difficulties in Libya but
also from places from which they've come from, their own country. A lot of people are fleeing to
find a better situation and at the moment they're just going from one concept to the other.

SIMON SANTOW: It's the middle of the desert so I imagine the weather is pretty extreme.

MICHAEL BATES: We're coming into the summer season so it is getting very hot. We expect
temperatures to reach around 50 as an average from what I've heard. Hygiene is a concern for us and
we're looking to cover any gaps that we see during the period of the intervention.

There is a number of people here who have had traumatic experiences throughout their lives, whether
it be from their home country or some situations they've been exposed to in Libya.

So there are people who are deeply traumatised and they're just looking for a better life, a
solution, a solution to their current environment. And people are stressed, people are trapped in
the desert effectively and they want out, they want to move on, they want to work they want to live
like you and I.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: That's Michael Bates from Médecins Sans Frontières, speaking to Saturday AM's
Simon Santow.