A Red Cross team finally entered the besieged Libyan town of Sirte yesterday and delivered urgently needed surgical supplies to treat about 200 wounded people.
Nato has repeatedly targeted Sirte in its seven-month bombing campaign that enabled armed rebels to topple the government of Muammar Gadaffi and gain control of most of the oil-rich state.
Militiamen aligned to the National Transitional Council have been laying siege to the town for weeks as well-armed supporters of the former regime refuse to raise the white flag.
Residents report that the intensity of the ongoing bombing and rocket attacks by Nato-backed militias has turned the town into a "living hell," and the Red Cross offered a similar assessment.
"The conditions under which medical personnel have had to work over the past weeks have been extremely difficult," said Hichem Khadraoui, who led the operation.
"The hospital is facing a huge influx of patients, medical supplies are running out and there is a desperate need for oxygen. On top of that, the water reservoir has been damaged."
The team could not stay long enough to fully assess the humanitarian needs of civilians because of the on-going fighting.
But the team said that it had met "civil society representatives," who reported dire shortages of drinking water, food supplies - in particular baby food - and hygiene items.
"For the Red Cross it is of utmost importance to be able to assist all people affected by the conflict - civilians and war-wounded fighters alike. We are committed to return to Sirte as soon as possible," Mr Khadraoui said.