Floods in Libya: 11,000 deaths in Derna (OCHA)

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Floods in Libya: 11,000 deaths in Derna (Ocha) © HCR/Ahmed Al Houdiri

According to a new report released on Sunday 17 September 2023 by the United Nations, the floods have claimed 11,300 lives in the town of Derna. The death toll could rise further as excavations continue in this city in north-east Libya.

In Derna, a city on Libya’s Mediterranean coast, rescue efforts are underway to save the last survivors of the floods, which have claimed 11,300 lives, according to the latest figures released on Sunday 17 September 2023 by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). According to this source, which cites the Libyan Red Crescent, at least 10,100 people have been reported missing since storm Daniel struck on 10 September.

According to OCHA, the death toll could rise as humanitarian aid begins to be deployed to help those affected. According to the latest data from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) displacement monitoring matrix, more than 40,000 people have been displaced in north-eastern Libya, although these figures are probably higher because access restrictions have limited data collection in the worst-affected areas, such as Derna, where at least 30,000 people have been displaced, according to OCHA.

Lack of drinking water

According to OCHA, these displaced people are not escaping death, as they are exposed to the risk of explosion “from landmines and other improvised explosive devices left over from years of conflict. Floodwaters have now displaced mines, even in areas previously free of weapons contamination, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)”.

Read also- LIBYA: the climate is believed to be the cause of the floods that have ravaged the east of the country

Added to this is the lack of drinking water, which particularly affects children. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), nearly 300,000 children exposed to the Daniel storm now face an increased risk of diarrhoea and cholera, dehydration and malnutrition, as well as increased risks of violence and exploitation. “The National Centre for Disease Control has already detected at least 55 children poisoned after drinking polluted water in Derna”, warns OCHA.

For the record, storm Daniel hit Libya’s east coast on 10 September 2023. In addition to Derna, which paid the heaviest price, the storm also hit the towns of Shahat, Al-Marj, Al-Bayda and Soussa. The authorities in eastern Libya put the death toll in these other towns at 170. The situation worsened in Derna when two dams on the coastal river Wadi Derna gave way under the weight of the waters on the night of 10 to 11 September.

Jean Marie Takouleu

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