Libya’s Eastern City of Derna Devastated by Storm Daniel: Death Toll Rises Amidst Humanitarian Crisis
The Aftermath of Storm Daniel
The eastern city of Derna in Libya was devastated by the Mediterranean storm Daniel, resulting in a staggering death toll and extensive damage. Emergency workers uncovered more than 1,500 bodies in the wreckage, and fears are rising that the toll could surpass 5,000. The storm’s intensity, coupled with the city’s vulnerability due to over a decade of chaos, has led to this catastrophic event.
The storm’s impact has highlighted the nation’s division, with rival governments in the east and the west resulting in the neglect of infrastructure in many areas. Derna, a city of approximately 89,000 residents, was left isolated as floodwaters damaged or destroyed many access roads. As a result, outside help only started to arrive more than 36 hours after the disaster struck.
Humanitarian Crisis Unfolds
With half of the collected bodies buried so far, the death toll is expected to rise further. According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, at least 10,000 people are still missing, and over 40,000 people have been displaced, adding to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Libya. The United Nations has conveyed its solidarity with the Libyan people and is working closely with local, national, and international partners to provide urgently needed humanitarian assistance to those in the affected areas.
While emergency responders, including troops, government workers, volunteers, and residents, are digging through the rubble looking for the dead, local authorities have largely sealed off Derna from civilians. This measure is intended to give space to emergency aid workers and prevent the contamination of standing water. However, this has resulted in a growing risk of water-borne diseases, food shortages, and lack of shelter and medicine.
Investigating the Disaster
Libyan authorities have opened an investigation into the collapse of two dams that caused the devastating flood in the coastal city. The general prosecutor has reassured citizens that firm measures will be taken against anyone found guilty of making mistakes or negligence, whether it be local authorities or previous governments.
Call for Unity and Cooperation
In the wake of the disaster, UN envoy to Libya, Abdoulaye Bathily, met with members of the Political Affairs Commission of the High Council of State to discuss the situation. Bathily expressed his disappointment at the lack of coordination between the national institutions in eastern and western Libya. Despite the solidarity displayed by Libyans from all regions towards those affected in Derna, there remains a pressing need for better coordination among national institutions and leaders to provide an effective response to such disasters.
Bathily emphasized the importance of a joint assessment by authorities from both ends of the country to ascertain the humanitarian response and reconstruction requirements. He asserted that it was crucial for political leaders to rise to the occasion and collaborate to move past the calamity. This incident serves as a call to action for political leaders to step up and work together to overcome the challenges posed by the tragedy.
International Aid and Future Challenges
International aid is arriving in Libya from the UN, Europe, and Middle Eastern countries, offering some relief to the thousands affected by the flooding. However, aid organizations have warned of the growing risk posed by the spread of disease that could compound the humanitarian crisis. Furthermore, the immense destruction and death toll have presented grave difficulties in delivering aid to those most in need.
As the search for survivors continues and the rebuilding process begins, the disaster in Derna serves as a stark reminder of the importance of unity and cooperation in the face of adversity. The joint efforts of local, national, and international entities will be crucial in overcoming the challenges ahead and ensuring that Libya and its people can recover and rebuild from this devastating tragedy.
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