Monday, June 24, 2024
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Libyan leaders grapple with discontent among wounded

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BENGHAZI, Libya: Libya’s interim leaders came under increasing scrutiny on Saturday from fighters who accuse them of not doing enough for combat-wounded troops dying of treatable injuries in the field and languishing in crowded hospitals.

The case of the war wounded — estimated to number in the tens of thousands — adds to a growing list of challenges for Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) as they try to restore order following the revolt that ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Outside al-Jalaa Hospital in the eastern city of Benghazi, dozens of men gathered at the third day of a protest against the NTC’s handling of veterans led by 28-year old Hamsa Saad Mohammed, a fighter shot in the thigh who says he needs complicated medical treatment abroad.

”They are trading with our blood — they have luxurious cars and houses while we suffer,” he said from his wheelchair, draped in Libya’s new flag and flanked by a half dozen wounded men and children protesting on hospital beds.

Other fighters say that while charities have been aiding the wounded and families of those killed, the NTC is seen as not moving fast enough to help its many wounded.

One wounded veteran who declined to be named said that if frontline troops knew how the wounded were being treated, they would think twice before joining the assault against Gaddafi’s last remaining bastion in the city of Sirte.

Complicating the matter is a growing desire by many for treatment in Europe, which has led to bitterness amid perceptions that the NTC is awash in cash from unfrozen assets in foreign countries, which Libya’s leaders deny.

Meanwhile, the UN General Assembly on Saturday voted overwhelmingly to readmit Libya as member of the UN Human Rights Council, eight months after the Muammar Gaddafi-led North African country was suspended for the government’s violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

In a ballot in the General Assembly, 123 countries voted in favour of the restoration of Libyan membership to the Council, four countries – Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador voted against while six States abstained. India voted in favour of Libya’s readmission.

The 47 members of the Council, which was set up in 2006 and is based in Geneva, are divided according to a geographical formula. (Agencies)

Libya had been elected last year, with its term scheduled to end in 2013.

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