Tragedy Strikes Libya: Uniting in Hope and Humanity Amidst Unprecedented Devastation
(Web Desk) Libya has seen everything, it has dealt with war, it has seen death. Libya has lost before before but nothing prepared them for this.
The heart-wrenching scenes from the Libyan city of Derna are beyond devastating. Imagine a place that’s home to about 100,000 people, where towering buildings on the riverbanks crumble, and homes and cars are swallowed by the relentless floodwaters. It’s heartbreakingly tragic.
Emergency services, operating under the internationally recognised government of the divided country, as of yet have reported a death toll of between 6000-11000 in Derna alone. To make matters worse, more than 10,000 people are still missing, and approximately 10,000 have been injured. But hold your breath, because officials from the rival government in eastern Libya believe that “thousands” more souls may have perished in the floods, and the death toll might climb to an even larger number.
This catastrophic flooding was unleashed by the unrelenting torrential rains from Storm Daniel. It struck Libya after causing havoc in Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey. Derna, located 250 km (150 miles) east of Benghazi, usually nestled among hills, now finds itself split by a raging river of muddy waters that has obliterated entire neighbourhoods and swallowed up bridges.
As if this weren’t already heart-wrenching, Tamer Ramadan from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warns that up to 10,000 people are missing. Imagine the anguish of families not knowing the fate of their loved ones.
The situation is dire, not just in Derna but across Libya’s eastern regions. Entire villages have been swallowed by the floods, and the death toll continues to rise. These communities have already endured years of conflict, poverty, and displacement. Now, this disaster further compounds their suffering, and their hospitals and shelters are stretched to their limits.
As if coping with this catastrophe weren’t challenging enough, residents and rescue workers in Derna are grappling with the overwhelming task of dealing with the corpses that wash up or remain trapped beneath the debris. Volunteers from within the previously bitterly divided Libya, where the city fought the city, the east fought the west for over a decade and they united to help their brothers. Bodies litter the streets, wash ashore, and are hidden beneath collapsed buildings. It’s a haunting scene, one that scars the soul.
To make matters worse, there’s a risk of health problems. Groundwater could be contaminated with a gruesome mix of water, corpses, dead animals, waste, and chemicals. People are being urged to avoid wells in Derna, as there’s a genuine fear of waterborne diseases spreading. It’s a race against time and nature itself.
In the face of this unimaginable tragedy, international organisations and experts are pleading with authorities in Libya to handle burials with the utmost care. They emphasise the importance of individual graves, proper documentation, and respectful ceremonies. Hasty mass burials risk causing lasting mental anguish for grieving families and raise potential health concerns.
Organisations like the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are working tirelessly to provide aid and support to those affected. Turkey has sent equipment to build two field hospitals along with doctors and medical staff. Italy has 3 air planes worth of supplies to support and help the survivors and 2 naval ships carrying rescue teams. search and rescue teams have come from different parts of the world to help Libya but it is not enough, Libya needs more.
The World Health Organisation and other humanitarian groups are urging authorities not to resort to mass graves for the flood victims, emphasising the potential long-term mental distress this could cause families and the associated health risks if such graves are located near water sources. We must remember that each life lost in this disaster is a profound tragedy, and their memories deserve the utmost respect.