Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Shutting Borders Exacerbates Libyans' Suffering

Shutting Borders Exacerbates Libyans' Suffering

Thursday, 26 March, 2020 - 06:15
A road sign shows the direction of Libya near the border crossing at Dhiba, Tunisia April 11, 2016. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra
Cairo - Jamal Jawhar

Libyan citizen Fatima Bouashi who moved to Cairo for her daughter's treatment believes that she will have to stay in Egypt for a long period now that war has devoured her family's house back in Libya's Ain Zara. Also, flights were halted and borders were shut, she added.

Fatima, who has been in Cairo for the past 10 months, reflects the distressing health situation that has been worsened by the coronavirus outbreak, especially in countries suffering from critical shortages of hospitals and medicines, forcing patients to pay for their own treatment in neighboring countries.

Libya took precautionary measures to confront the new coronavirus over the past two days, including imposing a partial curfew in the West, and full curfew in the East, suspending air traffic and closing borders with Tunisia and Cairo, through which thousands of Libyans used to pass to receive treatment abroad.

A spokesperson for the Initiative to Save Feminist Libya spoke on Wednesday to Asharq Al-Awsat over the issue.

"Health services in the country are very poor, however, medical capabilities, tools, and treatment are almost non-existent despite the availability of medical staff," said Amina al-Hasya.

The Libyan activist held the former regime responsible for the decline in the health sector, stressing that the inactivity of development projects has also damaged health facilities.

Libya has prevalent cases of patients with kidney failure and cancerous tumors. Meanwhile, the UN-backed government says it pays great attention to the health sector and treats a large number of Libyans abroad. It also claims repairing a number of destroyed hospitals to bring them back to service. However, the interim government in eastern Libya repeatedly accuses it of negligence and wasting oil revenues to make arms' deals and recruit mercenaries.

There are no official reports over the patients' numbers in Libya, however former GNA's Minister of Health, Omar Bashir Taher said there are more than 4,000 patients suffering kidney failure in the country.

According to the World Health Organization, it is estimated that there are 88,000 diabetics in Libya.

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