Sirte refugees queue for food aid away from NATO bombing





Hundreds of hungry civilians from Sirte lined up Sunday on the eastern outskirts of the city to receive food aid away from the non-stop NATO bombing and shelling of Muammar Gaddafi’s hometown.

Men and children, holding ration cards, passports and other identification papers, turned up in cars or on foot to take away food items for their families being distributed by a local charity.

“I have 17 people in my family, eight of them children, who are hungry and have nothing to eat,” said Rafah Hamid, who fled Sirte three weeks ago after NATO and its rebels started their unwavering attacks.

“When I left my home I took supplies that lasted until now, but since two days we have nothing. Our children are hungry and have no milk or proper food to eat.”

Hamid said he fled Sirte after the Sirte post office where he used to work was bombed and his family was evacuated by a group from the International Committee of the Red Cross. He and his family have since stayed with relatives in a village east of Sirte, but several others standing in the queue for their turn to receive food packets said they were camping in the desert.

Abdul Hafid, a 55-year-old resident of Sirte, said he was sleeping in a tent several kilometres away from the city where he had lived comfortably for more than a decade.

“We had to leave when the fighting became intense. I took whatever I could and am now staying in a tent under the sky. I have seven members to feed in my family,” said Hafid, dressed in a traditional Arabic dishdasha.

“I heard they were giving away food here so I came. I hope to get enough to feed my family for a few days.”

The food packets were being distributed by an NGO from the city of Al-Marja, about 100km east of Benghazi. Sacks of flour, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, packets of biscuits, cheese, coffee, tea, Cerelac baby food, and milk and water bottles filled the house from where volunteers were distributing them.

“We check their passports or identity cards to see if they are from Sirte and then give them what they need depending on the number of people in their families,” said Yasser Shagluf, a volunteer supervising the distribution.

“Some people have no identity cards, so we just give them what they need. We know only the needy come here.”

Shagluf said the aid being delivered was mostly for the children.

“We have a lot of food for children as they are the main victims of war,” he said, as behind him a thin teenager carried off a sack of flour on his back and loaded it in a pick-up.

“Many refugees are staying in desert camps, nearby villages, and without water, electricity or basic food for children.”

“It will take a long time for these people to have a normal life again as Sirte is completely destroyed,” said Jalal Ambaeya, another volunteer.

Large parts of the city of Sirte are deserted and almost every building and house has been hit by bullets, rockets or artillery shells.

Below is a video of the immense destruction caused by NATO in Sirte shown by mainstream media channel CCTV News, however, the video images speak for themselves.

Source: Mathaba

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