05/18/2012, 00.00
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Italian-Libyan association provides grassroots health care to Libya

Set up after the fall of Gaddafi, al-Libya has rebuilt hospitals and supplied medical drugs to cities like Zawiya, Ghelaa, Hurban, Algelaa and Bani Walid. Tiziana Gamannossi, who is behind the initiative, talks about the tragic situation of the Libyan population, left without drugs, shelter and basic necessities. On the Tunisian borders, dozens of children have died after contracting rabies from stray dogs.

Tripoli (AsiaNews) - Al-Libya, a small humanitarian organisation created by Tiziana Gamannossi, an Italian businesswoman based in Tripoli, in cooperation with local residents and Italian NGOs Easy Onlus and Umanitaria Padana, has provided tonnes of medical drugs to newly reopened clinics, health centres and hospitals, some outside of Tripoli.

"I got the idea right after the fall of Tripoli when we realised that foreign NGOs were hard pressed operating in the area," said Gamannossi. The situation was such that hospitals were overflowing with the wounded and in the absence of a real government, people were organising themselves in their own neighbourhoods.

"We began by handing out food and some medicine to the health centres near my home in Tajura (Tripoli)," Gamannossi explained. "Thanks to some Italian friends we started our small unregistered organisation in October with a container of drugs and hospital material, which we handed out to hospitals most in need.  For the past few months, we have travelled the country and, wherever possible, delivered equipment for more complex therapy and medical operations."

Since October, the initiative has provided help to places like Zawiya, Ghelaa, Hurban, Algelaa and Bani Walid. The last city was one of Gaddafi's last strongholds and was completely destroyed by NATO air strikes.

In Bani Walid, al-Libya reopened the hospital. It repaired the bedrooms used by Gaddafi's soldiers, and brought in under armed escort the Filipino nursing staff that had fled to Tripoli during the war.

Speaking about the situation a month before the country's first democratic elections, Gamannossi said that the humanitarian situation is still critical in most of Libya.

"In some villages, health centres are empty," she said. "The few that still have some staff are left without drugs, even the most basic. Recently, in a village near Tunisia, several children died after contracting rabies from stray dogs."

For the Italian businesswoman, the situation is still too unstable to hope for things to restart.

"With the elections," she added, "something might begin to change. However, the country is still torn by tribal violence and revenge attacks between rebels and Gaddafi loyalists. In the southern provinces, fighting is still going on." (S.C.)

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