World

Life under siege: 'The people can't stand it any more'

A Libyan youth carries away a piece of furniture from a destroyed building in Tripoli street

At least four rebels were killed on Monday and more than 15 injured on the southern front line of the Libyan city of Misrata. The city remains under siege, its only access being a hazardous voyage in or out of the port. Here, a resident of Misrata who has been in contact with the BBC since the beginning of the conflict reflects on daily life in the city.

"Fighting is still taking place on the outskirts of Misrata even though the city centre is now relatively safe.

Civilians can go out and get what they need but there is also still a very real sense that we are not completely secure. Rockets are still arbitrarily shot into residential areas.

A new field-hospital has been established and is manned by doctors who have come from the UK and Italy to help. It's been operational for about 10 days now.

This means there are currently two healthcare facilities, although there is still some surgery that can't be performed. Some of the injured have been taken to Tunisia by boat.

Technically the city is still under siege. Misrata's location means that we are under siege from the East, West and South.

We are in a strategic position also because of our proximity to Tripoli. And even though the port is now more secure and we are receiving aid, the people of Misrata are in such need that none of it lasts for very long.

But the thing that's really concerning us is the approaching month of Ramadan. This is a period when our religion forbids us to fight or kill anyone.

Of course we also have to fast from dawn until sunset and the weather will be extremely hot. This will leave us weakened.

Although Gaddafi's forces are mostly Libyan, we worry that Gaddafi will not respect the same rules for Ramadan and use this period to gain an unfair advantage as he did before in the 1980s.

'Can't stand it'

It's almost five months now since the beginning of the conflict and the people can't stand it any more, they need to feel safe again and to stop thinking about destruction.

People want to return to normal and many are going back to their houses - even the ones that have been damaged by the rockets and shelling.

In May, after the withdrawal of Gaddafi's troops, there was an incredible push by the people to repair and repaint. In one week the whole city had been cleaned up. Even very young children were cleaning the streets.

And these things were done, not because they had been ordered, but because there was the community drive to do it.

In the last week the banks have begun to open again although there is not much cash - there are limits on how much people can withdraw.

The humanitarian situation can only get worse though unless more money is made available. Funds are running low and poorer families are relying on the local council for money.

The news about the International Criminal Court issuing a warrant for Gaddafi's arrest was good news for us but now the people need something more concrete.

The man on the street, the woman inside her house, the young man on the front line - they all need something real to assure them that tough times are nearing an end."