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25 Days in Misrata
Emergency aid officer Serkan Öktem, who coordinates the IHH's aid work in Misrata, has arrived back in Turkey. Mr. Öktem, who was carrying out relief works under heavy bombardment, was saved from a bo
SierraLeone 09.05.2011

After the people's uprising in Libya, The most intensive clashes have been taking place in Misrata. Gaddafi forces blockaded the city of Mistara and the city is under heavy bombardment. The IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation has been conducting relief work in Libya since the first day of the clashes. The IHH sent an emergency relief ship to Misrata in April. 682 tons of humanitarian relief supplies were sent to the region from Istanbul's Zeyport port by cargo ship; the ship's name is 'Irmak'. The relief supplies were distributed to those in need under heavy bombardment. Emergency aid officer Serkan Öktem, who coordinates the IHH's aid work in Misrata, came back to Turkey after working there for 25 days. Mr. Öktem said that even though they were under bombardment, they could easily distribute the relief supplies, sent by charitable people in Turkey, to those in need.

Mr. Öktem said that the city was destroyed because of heavy bombardment and added that: “when our aid ship arrived at Misrata port, due to security measures it took us three days to unload the relief supplies. That was the time when we realised the gravity of the situation. We started to distribute the relief supplies immediately together with our partner institution in the region. We could not enter some areas due to heavy bombardment and sometimes we could not distribute the supplies because of bombardment. There is not a single day without a bombardment in Misrata. The major streets of the city, Benghazi and Tripoli were destroyed.”

They see Misrata as a trophy

Mr. Öktem, who said that Gaddafi's mercenaries are very ruthless, continued as follows: ''Gaddafi told his mercenaries, brought from African countries, that everything in Misrata was halal for them. Mercenaries in Misrata see everything as a trophy. Even when they retreat from city centres, they loot houses and stores on their way. They bomb everywhere indiscriminately. Gaddafi promised to give Misrata to his soldiers if they clear the city of insurgents. This led the soldiers to attack even more ruthlessly.”

Children become accustomed to the sounds of bombs


Serkan Öktem said that they have been carrying out relief works under heavy bombardments and added that the children in Misrata are scared of the sounds of bombs; but they have even got used to this. Mr.  Öktem, who was at the port on the night that the port was attacked, said that: “the aid ship that we arrived in Misrata with went to Benghazi later on in order to bring new relief supplies. And we went to the port to pick up the new relief supplies. The moment we started to unload the supplies, they said that the ship needed some other things. So, I went to the other side of the port. That was the moment that the bombardment started. If it had started one minute earlier, I would have stayed in the middle of the bombardment. Two people lost their lives in front of my eyes. The ship had to leave the port by cutting ropes off. Thank God we could unload the relief supplies. Immediately we took the relief supplies away from the port. We could save what the charitable Turkish people had entrusted in us. We could distribute those supplies very quickly. The blockade in Misrata is still strictly enforced. Some parts of the city still do not have any electricity. Sewer pipes were connected to drinking water pipes by Gaddafi forces. There is a shortage of clean drinking water in the region. Misrata people still need help.”

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