“The casualties we’ve seen –you cannot imagine it. There were faces there but no head. These were civilians who were asking for rights,” Abdalla Shamasi, a neurosurgeon on the four-member team of physicians, was quoted as saying on Sunday by Canada’s Toronto Star newspaper.
“We’re talking about 14- and 16-year-olds with their head completely exploded. You cannot imagine the brutality of this regime,” he added.
Dr. Mahmoud Darrat, an anesthesiologist with the group, also reflected his colleagues comments and said, “Once we got to the hotel, that’s when we started crying and supporting each other. We are supposed to help the people who are living there. We can’t say this in front of them.”
“This trip was draining emotionally and mentally. It was exhausting for everybody because we did not expect this much damage,” he noted.
It is been nearly a month since Libyans rose up against the 42-year rule of Muammar Gaddafi.
Poorly-equipped civilians are up against Gaddafi’s navy, army and air force.
Dr. Shamasi described how Gaddafi’s forces were even using ambulances to attack wounded civilians.
“You have somebody who is wounded, and the ambulance comes, and out of the ambulance comes a person with a gun and finishes that,” Shamasi said.
He made a reference to the Libyans’ calls for social justice and liberty during their protest rallies which took on new dimensions as the team stood aghast only a day after performing medical rounds in Libya.
Despite the daily deaths and crippling injuries, the doctors said Libyans maintained high hopes the dictator would soon be overthrown.
Fathi Abuzgaya, an orthopedic surgeon who was on the two-week toured, recalled an exchange with a 16-year-old boy, whose leg had to be amputated.
“We were trying to comfort him, saying how brave he was facing bullets at 16 and losing his leg, and he said, ‘For freedom I’ll lose the other one,’” Abuzgaya said.
“He was bleeding from his abdomen. He told me, ‘Doctor, please suture me quickly. I want to go back to fight again for freedom,’” said Omar Bengezi, the team’s plastic surgeon.
“We’ve been described as brave doctors, but the real brave people are really the people of Libya,” Abuzgaya added. “Most of all, I’ve seen hope of the people. They say, ‘We will not stop. We will either win or die.’”
The doctors said there is a shortage of medical staff, supplies and space at hospitals across the country, and called on the international community for support.
“They’re not used to this kind of trauma. They’re not used to this kind of volume in these small hospitals. I don’t think they can handle this,” Darrat said.
The four doctors also joined the Arab League in asking the UN Security Council to impose a no-fly zone in Libya.
Human Rights groups say more than 6,000 people have been killed so far in Libya due to the brutal crackdown by the Gaddafi regime on anti-regime protesters.
Muammar Gaddafi has been in power since a 1969 military coup.