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At least 5,500 people have died and more than 10,000 are believed missing after Tropical Storm Daniel broke through two dams that protected Libya’s eastern coastal city of Derna from flooding. Experts estimate that the floods unleashed approximately 30 million cubic meters of water onto the city—the hardest hit part of Libya—washing away entire neighborhoods. Other cities in the northeast of the country have also been affected.
“The death toll is huge,” Tamer Ramadan, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) delegation in Libya, said at a press conference in Geneva.
Derna is home to approximately 90,000 people and sits on the Mediterranean coast.
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But aid workers and Libya observers fear that political fractures in the country will hamper relief efforts. The epicenter of the flood disaster in Libya falls in areas under the control of commander Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army.
Libya was the site of protracted fighting and a six-year civil war from 2014 to 2020 and the country is split by rival administrations, with Haftar dominating the east, and the U.N.-backed Government of National Unity in Tripoli, led by Abdulhamid Dbeibeh, controlling the west.
Mary Fitzgerald, a Libya specialist at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C., tells TIME that a key factor in the disaster appears to be "poor maintenance of the dams on the outskirts of Derna" that caused them to collapse amid heavy rainfall. "Libya's rival political factions have paid little attention to the country's deteriorating infrastructure despite many Libyans raising the alarm in recent years," she adds.
Haftar laid siege to Derna in 2017, capturing the city in 2019. “Derna is still devastated by the war, which destroyed many areas of the city,” Abdulkader Assad, a political editor at the Libya Observer, told the Times of London. “I am really concerned about aid getting through since nothing like this has happened before and the eastern government does not have the necessary relief teams. It will all depend on the international response.”
Despite these difficulties, humanitarian workers have pointed to ways to help victims of the flooding in Libya. Below, some of the charities working in Libya right now.
Islamic Relief Worldwide
Islamic Relief Worldwide has launched an appeal seeking financial support to help Libyans impacted by the floods. They are working with local partners on the ground to provide food, blankets, mattresses, and other aid to families. They have already committed an initial £100,000 ($125,000) to providing emergency assistance. You can find out more about how to donate here.
Libya in the UK
Libya in the UK is a charity run by Libyan young people living in Britain. The organization is collaborating directly with the Libyan Red Crescent, which is operating in the country. You can donate via their gofundme page here or learn more about the organization here.
CARE is an international organization that provides humanitarian relief during crises. They have been operating in Libya since 2021. You can learn more about their donation options here.
International Medical Corps
The international medical corps has an in-country team in Libya that is providing shelter, mobile health systems, water, sanitation, and hygiene resources to those affected by the flooding. They are working in partnership with Libya’s Ministry of Health and local organizations to conduct assessments to determine if further assistance is needed from the International Medical Corps’ Emergency Response Unit. You can donate here.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
The international Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies has been operating in Tripoli, Misrata, and Benghazi in the aftermath of the Libyan civil war, assisting with rehabilitation and economic support.
“#Libya is facing large-scale devastating disaster,efforts are huge but yet challenges and needs are way more beyond what current efforts can do. Support from all international actors to @LibyaRC and Libyan people is strongly needed now @ifrc stands ready to coordinate,” the IFRC’s Ramadan wrote in a post on X.
You can donate to the IFRC’s work in Libya here.
UNICEF is a U.N. agency that focuses on the wellbeing of children. The organization has so far supplied 1,100 hygiene kits, essential clothing for 500 children, and medical supplies for approximately 10,000 people in Libya. If you are interested in helping, you can click here.
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