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UN launches urgent €66 million appeal for Libya flood victims

uuu Copyright Yousef Murad/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Yousef Murad/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AP & AFP
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Flash flooding tore through the coastal city of Derna on Sunday, leaving entire neighbourhoods in ruins. 10,000 people are still missing while officials say the death toll has surpassed 11,000


The United Nations has launched an appeal for US$71 million - more than €66.5 million - to aid the hundreds of thousands in need in Libya after two dams on Wadi Derna burst, unleashing torrents of water.

"We don't know the extent of the problem" said the UN's Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Martin Griffiths, on Friday. 

His warning came as authorities reported that access to some affected areas has become impossible.

Griffiths, who also serves as the world body's Emergency Relief Coordinator, stressed that the floods, torrents and destroyed buildings are concealing the level of help needed and more deaths. 

In this photo provided by Turkey's IHH humanitarian aid group, rescuers retrieve the body of a flooding victim in Derna, Libya, Wednesday, Sept.13, 2023.AP/AP

The UN has also called for a sea corridor to be established for emergency relief and evacuations.

Libyan authorities limited access to an inundated city Friday to allow searchers to dig through mud for the thousands of people still missing.

Some officials have warned that disease and explosives shifted by the waters could claim yet more lives on top of the 11,000 already pronounced dead.

In the most affected areas, efforts to recover the dead and distribute aid have been plagued by confusion and lack of resources. Libya's two opposing governments, long divided by civil strife and war, have struggled to respond to the disaster of such great proportions.

Aid is on its way

The European Union said assistance from Germany, Romania and Finland had been dispatched including hospital tents and power generators, as well as food, water tanks and blankets.

The US, Algeria, Qatar, Italy, France and Tunisia have all also offered assistance.

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates has sent two aid planes carrying 150 tonnes of food, relief and medical supplies.

Kuwait also sent a plane with 40 tonnes of supplies, and Jordan sent a military aircraft loaded with food parcels, tents, blankets and mattresses.

Late Thursday, Salam al-Fergany, director general of the Ambulance and Emergency Service in eastern Libya, said residents would be evacuated from Derna and only search-and-rescue teams would be allowed to enter. But there was no sign Friday of evacuations.

Yousef Murad/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Bodies of the flooding victims are transported in Derna, Libya, Wednesday, Sept.13, 2023.Yousef Murad/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.

The UN humanitarian agency OCHA said Thursday that an estimated 884,000 people, directly impacted by the storm and flash floods in five provinces, need assistance.

Despite warnings that stagnant water will give way to disease, health officials in Libya said there was no need to rush burials or put the dead in mass graves, as bodies usually do not pose a risk in such cases.

“You’ve got a lot of standing water. It doesn’t mean the dead bodies pose a risk, but it does mean that the water itself is contaminated by everything,” Dr. Margaret Harris, spokeswoman for the World Health Organization, told reporters in Geneva. “So you really have to focus on ensuring that people have access to safe water.”

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