By Maha Ellawati.
Benghazi, 4 October:
Employees of Jalaa hospital in Benghazi have protested for a third day about the lack of security . . .[restrict]at the hospital and demanded the return of Ansar Al-Sharia personnel.
The Islamist Ansar Al-Sharia brigade, which had been providing the hospital’s security, were forced out of their posts as part of the ‘Save Benghazi’ demonstration on 21 September. The marchers, furious at the suspected involvement of Islamist groups in the killing of American ambassador Chris Stevens, attacked several brigade bases. One of these was the Ansar Al-Sharia brigade whose personnel at the hospital, fearing for their lives, abandoned their positions.
Medical staff have said that since Ansar Al-Sharia security guards left, the hospital has been suffering from security problems all the time. A female doctor said that medical staff are being verbally and even physically assaulted on a daily basis.
Another doctor described how the grieving friend of a man, injured in a road traffic accident, went on the rampage after learning that doctors had been unable to save his friend’s life. He broke medical equipment and attacked staff, before eventually being ejected from the building by hospital workers.
A doctor said: “We are subjected to this kind of abuse on a daily basis and that is why we are now demanding the provision of security for us, and in particular Ansar Al-Sharia.” He added that many people in Benghazi believed the security provided by the controversial brigade was better than that currently available.
There have also been reports of patients and visitors bringing weapons into the hospital and firearms being used to threaten doctors and nurses. Drug misuse is said to be yet another problem at the facility, and some hospital workers say they have witnessed recreational drug-taking in hospital rooms.
Dr Mohamed Beleid, the hospital’s director said: “The hospital has been suffering from a lack of security for a very long time.” Despite informing the relevant authorities, including the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Defence and Benghazi’s National Security Directorate, of the situation, Beleid said that nothing had been done. “We briefed them on the seriousness of the situation and asked them to provide protection for the hospital, but all these attempts failed.” [/restrict]