As fighting rages in Tripoli, WHO warns of disease outbreaks in Libya

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The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday that it feared outbreaks of infectious diseases due to dirty water and people fleeing fighting nearing Tripoli, where it has about two weeks of emergency supplies for hospitals and health facilities.

After a week of fighting, 75 people have been killed and 323 wounded, including seven civilians killed and 10 wounded, Dr. Syed Jaffar Hussain, WHO representative in Libya, told a Geneva news briefing by telephone from Tripoli.

The WHO has delivered trauma kits and medicines to hospitals, he said. Hussain added: “These supplies will last for two weeks, the acute phase.”

Some 9,500 people have fled the fighting but WHO has contingency plans in case “thousands if not hundreds of thousands” are displaced in the acute phase of fighting.

Gunfire and blasts echoed through Libya’s capital on Friday, as eastern forces fought troops of the internationally recognized government in southern Tripoli suburbs, forcing thousands of civilians to flee their homes.

The Libyan National Army (LNA) of Khalifa Haftar advanced on the coastal city a week ago in the latest conflict of a cycle of anarchy since the 2011 overthrow of leader Muammar Gaddafi.

But armed groups loyal to Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj have so far kept them at bay, with fierce fighting around a disused former airport about 11 km from the center.

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