In a show of anger and frustration, hundreds of protesters gathered in Derna, Libya, on Monday, accusing authorities of negligence following a devastating Derna flood that claimed thousands of lives. The United Nations has also issued a warning about the looming threat of disease outbreaks in the disaster-stricken city.
The demonstrators assembled outside Derna’s grand mosque, denouncing the eastern Libyan parliament and its leader, Aguilah Saleh, with chants demanding accountability and justice. They called for a swift investigation into those responsible for the catastrophe and insisted on a United Nations presence in Derna to aid in reconstruction efforts and support affected residents. Additionally, they urged scrutiny of the city’s council and past budgets.
The Derna flood unfolded on September 10 when two dams, previously reported to have structural issues dating back to 1998, burst after Storm Daniel struck eastern Libya. The resulting torrent of water wreaked havoc in Derna, a city with a population of 100,000, claiming the lives of nearly 3,300 people and leaving thousands missing.
Now, tens of thousands of traumatised residents are without homes and urgently require access to clean water, food, and essential supplies. UN agencies have sounded the alarm about the increasing risk of diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, dehydration, and malnutrition in the area.
The UN, local officials, aid agencies, and the World Health Organisation have expressed deep concerns about potential disease outbreaks due to contaminated water sources and inadequate sanitation.
While the true extent of the tragedy remains unclear, the grim search for bodies continues amidst the debris, mud, and destruction. Bulldozers work tirelessly to clear roads, and international rescue teams lend their support.
This Derna flood disaster has prompted a united response from various countries, including Egypt, France, Greece, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, deploying emergency response teams and aid. However, it has come at a cost, with casualties reported among rescue teams.
The UN has initiated an emergency appeal for over $71 million to aid survivors, while the European Union has pledged humanitarian funding of €5.2 million (approximately $5.5 million) for Libya.
Despite longstanding political divisions in Libya, rival administrations are temporarily putting aside their differences to collaborate on providing aid and support to the flood-stricken city. The situation in Derna is further exacerbated by unusual climatic conditions in the Mediterranean region and the lingering impacts of Libya’s past conflicts.
As Derna grapples with the aftermath of this devastating flood, the threat of disease outbreaks remains a looming concern, emphasising the urgent need for international assistance and coordinated efforts to address the crisis.