Mustafa Omar, 29, is a radiologist from Misrata and he is tired. (Photo: Eric Kampherbeek.) Since the siege on his city began in March, he’s been working as a surgeon in the city’s hospital. It was in such bad repair before the uprising that another was to be built to replace it. During the siege, Gaddafi’s forces targeted the building, but their shelling was off. A hotel across the road was demolished, but the hospital survived.
The siege ended in May, but Omar and the other doctors began to receive wounded from nearby Zliten and other towns. There isn’t enough medicine. Now the injured from Sirte are being brought into triage in Misrata. About 1,400 people died in the hospital during the siege; another 65 have died in the building from their injuries on Sirte’s frontline. Money from the Temporary Financial Mechanism is being used to fly some injured to Europe, Jordan and Tunisia for treatment. But the casualty unit is still inundated. “We sleep in the hospital,” he said. “We can’t go home. We never know when more will be brought in.”
Some of the injured from Sirte are Gaddafi soldiers. I asked Omar what the men said to him: whether they gave any reasons why they were still fighting for the colonel.
“I don’t talk to them,” he said. “Three of my cousins died. If I talk to them then I get angry. And if I get angry then I cannot treat them like patients.”