After the catastrophe: Libya between chaos and devastation

After the catastrophe: Libya between chaos and devastation
Severely devastated: Libya after the devastating flood disaster.

The eastern government’s health ministry said on Tuesday, according to the Al-Marsad news site, that the badly affected port city of Darna had been divided into three zones.

Meanwhile, the risk of disease outbreaks continued to grow. The worst-hit area in Darna was declared uninhabitable on Tuesday. It was said that only rescue teams were allowed to enter it. The “fragile zone” – another area that was heavily flooded with water – also poses a danger to residents. The third and final zone was declared safe and habitable by the ministry.

Video: Rescue operations in Libya are difficult

At the same time, journalists and activists reported on Tuesday that they had been asked to leave the disaster areas. A journalist from the Saudi television channel Al-Hadath said that all journalists had to leave Darna by midday on Tuesday. The authorities in the east cited a possible hindrance to rescue work and the risk of collapsing buildings as the reason. It is sometimes assumed that reports of a demonstration the evening before could have been the trigger. The interior minister of the government in the east, Issam Abu Sariba, told Al-Hadath that journalists were working in the city as usual.

Citizens’ anger at those responsible is increasing

As the clean-up work progressed, anger among citizens also increased: Hundreds of angry people demanded in front of a mosque in the center of the devastated port city on Monday evening that those responsible for the disaster be held accountable, as footage from the Libyan TV channel Al-Masar showed. According to eyewitnesses, demonstrators tried to set fire to the house of now-suspended mayor Abdel-Monim al-Ghaiti.

As a result of Storm Daniel, two dams in Darna burst. Entire quarters of the city, which has a population of 100,000, were washed away by the floodwaters. The authorities are accused of not maintaining the dams properly and thus contributing to the disaster. The public prosecutor’s office began investigations. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 4,000 fatalities have been identified. The government in the east put the number of officially registered deaths at 3,338. Tens of thousands of people were left homeless by the disaster.

Water sources heavily contaminated

The severe flooding has also left the water sources in the disaster region heavily contaminated with sewage. Thousands of people no longer have access to clean drinking water. The aid organization International Rescue Committee (IRC) warned urgently of a “rapidly expanding health crisis”, especially in Darna. Dozens of children have already become ill because of contaminated water, it was said.

The United Nations was also concerned. In particular, contaminated water and poor sanitation increased the risk of disease outbreaks, said a statement released on Monday by UNSMIL, the UN mission in Libya. United Nations teams were working to prevent a “second devastating crisis in the region” and the spread of disease. The EU pledged a further 5.2 million euros in humanitarian aid to Libya. The USA is also providing a further 11 million dollars (10 million euros).

Division of the country makes rescue operations more difficult

Libya is actually divided into two parts. The civil war country has a government in the West that is internationally recognized. In the east, where Storm Daniel caused particularly great damage, a different government that is not internationally recognized is in power. The de facto division makes rescue operations more difficult.

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