The mayor of the Libyan city of Derna, which was the most affected by the catastrophic floods, warns against the spread of the disease due to the thousands of corpses on the streets. The UN said that most of the victims could have been prevented.
Data on victims and missing persons differ between sources, only in Derni according to the ministers of the internationally unrecognized government in the east of the country, more than 5,300 have already died, later the spokesman of the Ministry of the Interior of this government spoke of the figure of 3,200, of which 1,100 have not yet been identified. The Red Crescent later announced that around 11,000 victims had been confirmed so far, according to the BBC.
Mayor of Derna Abdulmenam Al Haiti told Al Arabiya television that the number of dead could reach between 18,000 and 20,000, he gave the estimate based on the number of wiped out neighborhoods destroyed by the water. Libyan officials say 10,000 people are still missing, a UN agency estimates 5,000 are missing.
“We actually need teams to pick up the bodies. I’m afraid that because of the many corpses in the water and mud, diseases will start to spread throughout the city,” said the mayor.
“Both governments addressed the international community with a request for help,” he said Tawhid Pasha from the International Organization for Migration and explained that the western government has extended the request for assistance to the entire country and is coordinating with the eastern government. “The challenge at the moment is how to organize international aid to meet the needs and demands of governments.At the same time, Pasha said that aid must be greatly accelerated, and for this they need money.
As is known, Libya has been in turmoil since the overthrow of its long-time leader Muammar Gaddafiwho was removed from power and killed following NATO’s military intervention in 2011, is politically divided, with the western part of the country controlled by an internationally recognized government led by Abdullah Hamida Dbeihahaand the eastern part by members of the LNA, which is not recognized by the international community as a legitimate authority, and is officially led by the prime minister Osama Hamad, in fact, everything is pulled by the general Caliph Haftar. He also received the Egyptian military delegation that came to help after the floods.
High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk he emphasized that all political groups must participate in eliminating the consequences. “This is a time for unity with purpose.”
V Derni, which was the most affected by the floods, is currently being helped by rescuers and firefighters from Egypt, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Italy and Spain. Turkey will send a ship with equipment for two Polish hospitals and 148 medical workers. Time is running out to rescue any survivors, a spokesman for the Red Cross and Red Crescent said Tommaso Della Longa. “Unfortunately, we are aware that the window of time is closing, but there is still hope.”
52 years old Usama Al Husadi ever since the disaster, he has been searching tirelessly for his wife and five children. “I’m looking for them on foot. I’ve visited all the hospitals and schools, unfortunately without success,” he is desperate. He was working on the fateful night, his wife was at home with the children. “We lost at least 50 members on my father’s side of the family.”
On the beach in Derni is a dump full of clothes, furniture, toys and other items that the rising water swept away from homes.
WMO: Libya’s disaster warning system is down
Representatives of the World Meteorological Organization also spoke (WMO), which falls under the United Nations and criticized the Libyan system for early warning and management of natural disasters. “If Libya had a well-functioning meteorological service, it could issue warnings,” said the secretary general of the organization Peter Taalas. He added that they are at WMO– had previously offered help to the Libyan authorities in renovating the system, but that their plans were thwarted by the security situation in the country.
Taalas thus estimated that insufficient weather forecasts and inadequate information and action on the basis of early warnings contributed to the scale of the disaster to a large extent. Because of the long-standing of conflict in this country, the network of meteorological observatories has been destroyed, as well as the information systems, he explained. He also said that this is why there was no evacuation during the floods, because there were no adequate early warning systems. “If we had carried out the evacuation, the number of victims would have been much lower,” he emphasized and added that the economic damage caused by floods could be reduced with the intervention of the competent services.
Libyan National Meteorological center (NMC) otherwise issued early warnings for extreme weather conditions 72 hours before the rampage of storm Daniel, which is in Libya arrived from Greece. He informed the competent authorities by e-mail and asked them to accept preventive measures. According to reports WMO– it is not clear whether the warnings reached everyone they should have.
The EU and the UN are stepping up aid
Within the framework of the civil protection mechanism, the European Union is increasing aid to Libya after the catastrophic floods. After the help of Germany, Romania and Finland and the release of half a million euros for humanitarian aid, France, Italy and the Netherlands also offered help to Libya within the framework of the mechanism, they announced from Brussels.
European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič emphasized that EU member states immediately provided aid to Libya after the floods. “France, Italy and the Netherlands have offered medical personnel and equipment, lifeboats, helicopters and other emergency assistance to strengthen the response,” he said. He thanked all member states for their selfless support.
The United Nations announced ten million dollars (around 9.4 million euros) in emergency aid. According to the UN Emergency Coordinator Martin Griffiths now the main task is to prevent the spread of the disease.
“The scale of the flood disaster in Libya is shocking and heartbreaking. Entire neighborhoods have been wiped off the map,” he said. According to Griffiths, whole families were swept away by the water, caught by surprise.