By Libya Herald reporter.
Tunis, 8 August 2017:
The Libyan National Army (LNA) has allowed medical supplies into Derna, according to an Omar Mukhtar operations room spokesman. The announcement follows growing criticism of the LNA’s blockade and warnings that a humanitarian catastrophe was in the making.
The spokesman said that ambulances were being allowed out to refuel, and that oxygen cylinders and medical supplies were being allowed into the town. Although no one was permitted to enter Derna, people could leave if they wished, he added.
The statement came after the Presidency Council (PC) yesterday denounced the blockade, saying that it was unacceptable.
“It is the moral and national duty of all to ease the suffering of our people in Derna,” a PC statement said. The LNA forces had to separate the needs of the citizen from the conflict, the PC insisted. It wants humanitarian corridors to be opened to allow urgent supplies into Derna.
The LNA tightened its siege of the town in retaliation to the reported execution ten days ago of Air Colonel Adel Juhani by the Derna mujahideen after shooting down his plane just outside the town. At the time, the now-replaced head of the Omar Mukhtar operations room, Brigadier Salim Al-Rafadi, promised that no medical supplies, food or fuel whatsoever would be allowed into the town.
Despite the claim that medical supplies are in fact getting in, reports indicate that food is running low, that bakers have no more flour for bread, and that hundreds of families are desperately trying to leave the town.
Shock at the intensity of the blockade and fears for the consequences for ordinary Derna residents who have no say in who controls their lives have united figures from across the political spectrum, many of whom would otherwise be deeply opposed to each other.
Apart from the PC, radical cleric Sadek Al-Ghariani and his fatwa organisation, the Dar Al-Ifta, have condemned it as have the State Council, Taghyeer party chief Guma El-Gamaty and numerous others.
Calling for the siege to be lifted, Gamaty described it as shameful while state council member Mansour Al-Hasadi said it was a humanitarian crime.
Derna’s local council has appealed to new UN special envoy Ghassan Salamé to take action to lift the blockade. His deputy, Maria Ribeiro, has indeed expressed serious concern over the lack of basic necessities urgently needed in Derna.
However, regardless of what the LNA is reported to have said about medical supplies going in, it still appears determined to prevent any other supplies getting in. Today, LNA spokesman Ahmed Mismari announced that a boat containing supplies as well as ammunitions, weapons and fighters had been destroyed by air strikes.