Sub-Saharan refugees treated at new medical centre at Christ the King in Tripoli

02 March 2018

A refugee woman is seen by medical staff at the Mariam Medical Centre in Tripoli

A refugee woman is seen by medical staff at the Mariam Medical Centre in Tripoli

A MEDICAL centre has been established at Christ the King in Tripoli.

The Mariam Medical Centre was inaugurated on 7 November and is dedicated to the care of sub-Saharan refugees living in the city. Its services include preventative care, the promotion of healthier lifestyles, and free medical consultations available once a week. About 50 patients saw the medical officer, Dr Amir El-Kashdi, within the first month.

The Priest-in-Charge of Christ the King, Tripoli, the Revd Vincent Jacob Rajan, said in January that most of the migrants in the city did not have passports and so did not have access to hospitals. The clinic was teaching “basic hygiene” and addressing malnutrition in patients, 90 per cent of whom were women.

There are plans to expand services after the acquisition of more space. An American missionary has promised to send basic surgery equipment, and a ten-bed space is planned. Mr Rajan said that the clinic was appealing for volunteer doctors to work at the clinic, and was seeking to recruit a female doctor.

Nigerians make up about 80 per cent of the congregation at Christ the King. Most of these have travelled through the Saharan desert and arrive without papers (News, 29 September 2017). Ministries include a “Mission House Project” and a “Single Mother Project” that provide legal assistance through the Nigerian embassy. Mr Rajan said that boats continued to leave Libya for Europe, and that 900 people had been repatriated to Nigeria. The UN reports that, in the last weeks of 2017, thousands of migrants were “voluntarily returned for humanitarian purposes” from Libya to their countries of origins, “but thousands more migrants remain arbitrarily detained in centres, many of them in inhumane conditions.”

Last month, the UN migration agency reported that 418 migrants were estimated to have died trying to cross the Mediterranean in 2018, compared with 485 at this time last year. A total of 10,243 had made it across, compared to 17,438 in the same period in 2017, and 116,005 in the same period in 2016. It had helped 3730 “vulnerable migrants” to return to 26 countries from Libya, so far this year. Hundreds have been rescued or intercepted off the Libyan coast. The UNHCR continues to call on countries to offer more resettlement places. Last month, 19 people were killed and 49 injured after a smugglers’ truck carrying migrants (180 according to those on board) crashed.

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In January, the UN launched a £220-million appeal to help 940,000 people in Libya. It reports that “hundreds of thousands of people across the country are living in unsafe conditions and in volatile conflict areas, with little or no access to basic household goods and essential commodities, and with limited access to functioning basic services and utilities.”

Despite the signing of a political agreement in Libya in 2015, and “relative quiet” observed by the UN, there have been clashes Tripoli in recent weeks. A draft constitution is currently being prepared, and 600,000 Libyans have been newly registered to vote since December. The UN has also facilitated dialogues between representatives of local communities formerly in conflict. Elections are due this year.

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