Irish man shot in Libya criticises Government’s refusal to help

Family of Abduraheem Duidi had to raise money privately to fund medical evacuation to Ireland

A young Irish man who had a foot amputated after being shot in Libya has expressed his sadness at the Government’s refusal to fund his medical evacuation from the region.

Abduraheem Duidi claims the Government was more concerned with saving on the cost of an air ambulance than with his life or the loss of his foot.

Mr Duidi, who grew up in Crumlin, Dublin, was shot in Tripoli on March 4th. The Department of Foreign Affairs, in accordance with its normal rules, refused to fund his medical evacuation. Almost three weeks passed before friends and family raised enough money to privately fund an air ambulance transport to Ireland.

Currently receiving treatment in University Hospital Galway, he is due to undergo a further operation on his surviving leg on Tuesday. He says he has been told he has a 20 per cent chance of losing it.


"It is sad that you are Irish and there is no one from your Government to help you when something like this happens," Mr Duidi said, speaking to The Irish Times from his hospital bed. "They told my parents we can't help you until you arrange the money. With them it was a problem with money, but they didn't see the risk of me losing my leg, or even my life."

Gang of armed men

Mr Duidi says he is still in enormous pain after being shot in both legs, and has suffered nightmares and depression.

On the morning of the attack, the 23-year-old English language teacher was in a car with a work colleague when they were stopped by a gang of armed men.

If I came to Ireland they would have got their money. That wasn't a problem. Yet the more it was delayed, the more I got infected

“There were about 20 of them. One of them, out of his head on drugs, shot my friend, who was driving. Then he came running to me, he jumped on me, hit me and shot me in the legs.”

“At first I thought it was only the right leg. The only thing holding it on was skin. I felt all the blood coming out and I got real dizzy.”

Mr Duidi pleaded with the men to take him to hospital, which they did after half an hour. However, no doctor was present. When his family arrived they found him another hospital where doctors performed emergency surgery. The following day he was taken to a hospital in Tunisia, where further operations were carried out.

Family and friends made contact with the Department in Dublin and Ireland’s consul in Tunisia, but were told there was no funding available for an air transport. Surgeons there recommended a double amputation but Mr Duidi declined in the hope of having his leg saved in Ireland.

Treated in Galway

He says he would have repaid any money the Department provided for transport. “If I came to Ireland they would have got their money. That wasn’t a problem. Yet the more it was delayed, the more I got infected.”

When he got to Galway, the medical team had to amputate his right foot in order to stop the infection spreading to his vital organs. Vascular surgeon Prof Sherif Sultan says the outcome would have been "completely different" if Mr Duidi had been brought to him immediately after being shot.

Official advice on the Department’s website advises people who need hospital treatment abroad to contact the nearest Irish embassy or consulate. The Department says it can contact family, help find English-speaking doctors and communicate with medical personnel, but it cannot pay hospital bills or other medical expenses.

Despite his traumatic experience over the past month, Mr Duidi is positive about the future. “What happened, happened. I can’t really change it. I’ll put my artificial leg on and do my best to get back on my feet.”

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.