Libya Flood Disaster Displaced Over 43,000 People – IOM

People look at the damage caused by freak floods in Derna, eastern Libya, on September 11, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

The International Organization for Migration reported Thursday that Libya’s flood disaster, which killed thousands in the city of Derna, displaced more than 43,000 people.

After Mediterranean Storm Daniel pummeled the area on September 10, a tsunami-sized flash flood ripped down two ageing river dams upstream from the coastal city.

It razed entire neighbourhoods, sweeping untold thousands of people into the sea.

The official death toll stands at more than 3,300 — but the eventual count is expected to be far higher, with international aid groups giving estimates of up to 10,000 people missing.

“An estimated 43,059 individuals have been displaced by the floods in northeastern Libya,” the IOM said, adding that a “lack of water supply is reportedly driving many displaced out of Derna” to other areas.

“Urgent needs include food, drinking water and mental health and psychosocial support,” it said.

Meanwhile, mobile and internet connections were restored after a two-day outage caused by rallies Monday in which irate people blamed the authorities for the high death toll.

Authorities blamed the communications outage on a “break in the optical fiber” connecting to Derna, while several internet users and analysts said it was an intentional “blackout.”

On Thursday, Tripoli-based Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah claimed that communications in the east had been restored in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

War-scarred Libya is still divided between Dbeibah’s UN-backed and theoretically interim administration in the west and Khalifa Haftar’s military-backed government in the disaster-hit east.

Suspects ‘Identified’

The dams that were overrun by the torrential rains on September 10 have breaches since the 1990s, according to Libya’s top prosecutor, as citizens accused officials of incompetence.

Much of Libya’s infrastructure has deteriorated since a NATO-backed rebellion in 2011 ousted and killed tyrant Moamer Kadhafi.

Haftar’s forces took Derna in 2018, which had been a hotbed of extreme Islamists and a protest base since Kadhafi’s days.

Protesters gathered outside Derna’s big mosque on Monday, chanting slogans against the parliament in eastern Libya and its chairman, Aguilah Saleh.

In a televised interview Wednesday evening, Libya’s prosecutor general Al-Seddik al-Sour vowed “rapid results” in the investigation into the cause of the tragedy.

He added that those suspected of corruption or negligence “have already been identified”, without naming them.

Survivors in have Derna meanwhile faced new threats.

The UN warned this week that illness outbreaks might cause “a second devastating crisis” in flood-affected communities.

According to the UN, local officials, relief organizations, and the World Health Organization are “concerned about the risk of disease outbreak, particularly from contaminated water and a lack of sanitation.”

The disease control center in Libya has warned that the mains water in the disaster zone is contaminated and encouraged residents not to drink it.

Written by PH

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