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Red Crescent in Libyan aid effort overstretched

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The Red Crescent, which is the only  humanitarian aid organisation currently on the ground in Libya, is already  overstretched and facing a severe shortage of medical supplies, EU’s  Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said Thursday.

“What particularly worries us is that with the exception of the local  organisation of the Red Crescent — which is already gasping for breath and  cannot ensure enough medical services, especially in Benghazi — there are  practically no other structures that could join the (humanitarian) action,”  Georgieva told the Bulgarian national radio.

“What we hear is that there is need for medication, that the healthcare  system is overpowered,” she added.    The Red Crescent has managed to mobilise only about 100 local volunteers  working in Benghazi and even fewer in the capital Tripoli, Georgieva said.    The three very small UN representations in Libya — of the UNICEF  children’s fund, the UN development programme and the World Health  Organisation — lack any operating capacity to help any humanitarian effort,  she said.

“So our only hope is to manage to help via the Red Crescent and the Red  Cross as they stand the best chance in these hard circumstances,” Georgieva  said.    The EU has also been trying to move its humanitarian aid workers over the  Libyan border with Egypt, she added, warning of the imminence of a  humanitarian crisis as the situation in Libya “grows more and more serious by  the hour.”

Sofia, Feb 24, 2011 (AFP)