Thu 21 Sep 2023 5:09 pm - Jerusalem Time
UN: Floods in Libya displaced more than 43 thousand people
More than 43,000 people were displaced, according to the United Nations, as a result of the massive floods that swept eastern Libya, especially the city of Derna, where communications were restored on Thursday after a 24-hour interruption.
While search operations continue for thousands of missing people who are believed to have died as a result of the floods, the International Organization for Migration on Thursday published new estimates indicating an increase in the number of displaced people after the passage of Storm Daniel on the night of September 10-11.
The International Organization for Migration said that the tragedy caused the displacement of 43,059 people.
She added that "the lack of water supplies may have prompted many" of the displaced inside Derna to leave it to go to other cities in the east and west of the country.
The International Organization for Migration noted that the urgent needs of the displaced include “food, fresh water, mental health, and psychosocial support.”
The floods led to the death of 3,351 people, according to the latest official provisional toll announced by the Minister of Health in the Libyan East, Othman Abdel Jalil, on Tuesday evening.
However, humanitarian organizations and Libyan authorities fear that the number of victims is much higher due to the number of missing persons estimated in the thousands.
The communications networks and the Internet witnessed a blackout on Tuesday evening, and journalists were asked to leave the stricken city the day after a demonstration by Derna residents to demand that the authorities in the east of the country be held accountable, considering them responsible for the disaster.
The authorities spoke of a “cut in optical fiber,” but according to analysts and Internet users, the cut was deliberate and aimed at imposing a “blackout” after the extensive media coverage of the demonstration the day before.
The Libyan Supreme Committee for Emergency and Rapid Response, which was formed by the eastern authorities to supervise relief efforts, announced “the return of communications and Internet services throughout the city of Derna.”
The head of the Libyan government recognized by the United Nations, Abdul Hamid Al-Dabaiba, announced on his account on the “X” website (formerly Twitter) that “the efforts of the field crisis team for the communications sector were crowned with success in restoring communications and Internet services to the city of Derna and the eastern region, after re-implementing new paths for fiber cables.” Optical communications infrastructure.
A strong storm struck eastern Libya on the night of Sunday, Monday, September 11, and the rain falling in huge quantities led to the collapse of two dams in the city of Derna. Water flowed forcefully and several meters high into a riverbed that is usually dry, sweeping away parts of the city along with its buildings and infrastructure.
The United Nations announced earlier this week that its agencies, especially the World Health Organization, are working to "prevent the spread of diseases and avoid a second devastating crisis in the region," warning of risks linked to "water and the lack of sanitary supplies."
On Thursday, rescue crews continued their efforts to find the bodies of the missing, especially at sea, after the floods swept away entire neighborhoods.
Libya has been mired in chaos since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, and two governments are competing for power. The first is based in Tripoli in the west and is headed by Abdul Hamid Al-Dabaiba and is recognized by the United Nations, and the other is in the east of the country, which was struck by the storm, headed by Osama Hammad and is appointed by the House of Representatives. It is supported by the strongman in the East, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.
In 2018, Haftar's forces took control of Derna, which was a stronghold of extremist Islamists and the only city outside their control in eastern Libya. But the eastern authorities consider Derna an opposition stronghold since the Gaddafi era.
After opening an investigation into the circumstances of the disaster, Libyan Attorney General Al-Siddiq Al-Sur confirmed that the two dams that collapsed had developed cracks since 1998 and had not been repaired.
The friend in charge of investigating the disaster, Al-Sour, promised in a television interview on Wednesday evening that the results would appear “soon.”
He stressed that the Derna investigations "will affect officials."