Field News from Libya: Najib’s Story

As Najib entered the operating theatre, his father approached us.

“My wife and I would like to go into the ward to see Najib before the operation,” he said.

22-year-old Najib was brought to our hospital in ‎Gernada, ‪#‎Libya, a week ago. Five days earlier, a bullet wounded his leg. After being taken to the hospital in ‪‎Bengasi, where he was given some initial treatment, he was transferred to our hospital.

We saw straight away that his condition was really serious: a vascular injury to the leg, which was also showing widespread signs of infection.

Our surgeons tried to do what they could but, unfortunately, amputation was the only possibility. We called his father and explained the seriousness of the situation, asking his go-ahead for the operation.

“His life is more important than his leg,” he replied, trying to hold back the tears.

Najib’s parents got here in the early morning to spend some time with their son before the operation. We helped them put on the lab coats, so they could enter the intensive care unit. Hand in hand, they went up to his bed and then hugged him, stroked his head and reassured him.

Seeing Najib’s mother talk so gently to her son and cuddle him made us think how nothing, not even war, can destroy the love and affection that bind people together.

–Marina, EMERGENCY’s Medical Coordinator in Libya


Ibrahim’s Journey to Southern Italy

EMERGENCY-NGO-SicilyAs Ibrahim turned 22, he landed at Pozzallo, southern Italy, along with 244 other people. Just before his medical examination in our Mobile Clinic, we realised it was his birthday, and we gave him a smile and wished him a “happy birthday”. Ibrahim was really touched. Sometimes, even the smallest gesture is enough.

“Thank you, that was the best present I could have wished for.”

Ibrahim was happy because he had managed to cross the desert, pass through Libya, and make it across the sea alive. But also because he had finally found some humanity in the person in front of him.

Over the last year and a half, EMERGENCY staff have been present at landings of migrants and refugees in southern Italy, ready to provide basic care to those who arrive via the central Mediterranean route. Those we help are frequently dehydrated and undernourished, and often bear clear signs of torture and trauma, usually sustained during their journey through ‎Libya. The people who face these journeys leave their home country, head to Libya, and cross the Strait of Sicily. They have no other option: they’re fleeing from war, dictatorships, and poverty. That’s why we will be there to provide assistance for as long as we are needed.

Update from Libya

In the last few days, fighting has intensified on the outskirts of Derna, Libya. Several individuals who were wounded in the fighting were immediately transferred to our hospital in Gernada, where our surgical team is now treating their injuries.

Since October 2015, EMERGENCY has been operating a Surgical Center in Gernada, Al Bayda Province, Libya. The Center offers free, high-quality surgical and trauma treatment for war victims. It has already treated over 700 patients and performed more than 100 surgical operations.

Located approximately 43 miles from Derna, and 93 miles from Benghazi, the Surgical Center is intended to become a reference point not only for those living nearby, but also for patients coming from across the country.

“Despite the uncertainty of the future,” says Emanuele, EMERGENCY’s Program Coordinator in Libya, “EMERGENCY continues to treat war victims in its hospital in Gernada.”

The war in Libya, which began in 2011, severely affected the national healthcare system: due to a widespread lack of resources and staff, access to basic and specialised healthcare is difficult for large portions of the population.

In addition to the provision of surgical and medical care, the Center aims to contribute to rebuilding the capacity and sustainability of the Libyan national health system by offering professional training programs on patient stabilization, treatment, and trauma management.

70 Libyan national staff are currently being trained by a team of ten international healthcare professionals. The training will cover not only the provision of high-level medical care, but also hygiene and day-to-day hospital management.

In our hospitals, we give great importance to the training of local staff. For EMERGENCY, providing sustainable healthcare means training medical and non-medical staff who can continue to provide free, high-quality healthcare after we leave.

Updates from Italy

“I was shocked,” said Khalid, one of our mediators in Sicily. “At just 2 years of age, Aida had already spent a month in a prison in Libya, and had crossed the Strait of Sicily in a rubber boat.”

In the last two days, over 1,500 people have come ashore in Pozzallo and Augusta, Sicily. Among them was a young Gambian couple who, after spending the past 6 months in Libya, boarded a rubber boat with their daughter, Aida. They headed for Italy, following the central Mediterranean route. Khalid and our other colleagues are there, providing social-medical assistance during the landings from EMERGENCY’s two Mobile Clinics.

A Letter from Our Colleague in Libya, Ramadan Mousa


During his long stay in our hospital for War Victims in Libya, Ramadan – who speaks English – became a go-between for us and our patients. And as soon as his condition improved, he was helping the children to eat, helping the other patients to get out of bed, and always had a kind word and gesture for everyone. So we asked him to become our colleague. Every afternoon, during the hours of training held by the international staff, he’s now an interested and attentive member of the group. When we asked him if we could tell you his story, he answered “Of course, but I’ll write it.” You can read his story below. He called it “Story of my life.” And we thought it was a truly great story to share.

“My name is Ramadan Mousa Kaber Kony. I was born in the city of Alkofra in 1993, in a shanty town built by Gheddafi. During the fighting in my village, I was wounded by a bullet that entered via my left shoulder and passed close to my heart before emerging from my back.

There are no good medical services in my area, so during a moment of cease-fire I managed, along with other injured people, to reach the hospital in Gernada that’s run by EMERGENCY. Here we all got the right treatment and we stayed in hospital until we were well enough to be discharged.

When I was ready to leave the hospital, Marina (EMERGENCY’s Medical coordinator here in Libya) asked me whether I’d be interested in working with them, here at the hospital. I said “yes” because I feel I belong to this place, where I was once a patient and now I’m a member of the staff. I’m happy for myself, although I’m very sorry for my family and all the people in my village who have to go on living in a hard, dangerous situation.

Finally, I’d like to thank all the EMERGENCY staff: I hope I can be of good use in this hospital.

Thank you so much,

Ramadan Mousa”