The Libyan city of Derna faces a second humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of the floods, with growing risk of water-borne diseases and shortages of food, shelter and medicine now posing grave risks to survivors, Islamic Relief says.
There are reports of more than 11,000 people now confirmed dead from Monday’s floods, but thousands of people are still unaccounted for and the death toll could rise to 20,000 or more.
Islamic Relief and other responders are racing against time to deliver aid and prevent further suffering. Working with local partner organisations on the ground, Islamic Relief has so far distributed mattresses and blankets, hygiene kits, and food such as milk, oil, flour and sugar – and is working to deliver medical supplies.
The enormity of the crisis and the massive damage to infrastructure such as roads and bridges means that delivering aid is a huge challenge.
Salah Aboulgasem, Islamic Relief’s Deputy Director of Partner Development, is coordinating Islamic Relief’s response from the UK. He says:
“People urgently need aid now to stop this horrific catastrophe getting even worse. Thousands of people don’t have anywhere to sleep and don’t have food. In conditions like this, diseases can quickly spread as water systems are contaminated.
“An entire city is in grief and the psychological impact of people losing their families and homes in a split second is huge. Our partners in Derna met one young girl who saw her mother swept away before her eyes. The girl has barely spoken since and only speaks to ask where her mother is.
“The city smells like death. Almost everyone has lost someone they know.
Many survivors have stayed in Derna because they are still searching for lost family members. Others have fled to other towns and desperately need aid.
One of the distributions supported by Islamic Relief took place in a school that is now crowded with people who have lost their homes.
Working with local Libyan partners, Islamic Relief has so far reached 5,000 people impacted by the floods and is working to scale up its response as quickly as possible.
Islamic Relief has heard accounts from survivors in Derna about the moment the floods hit. Aboulegasem says:
“The flooding happened around 2.30-3.00 in the morning during the middle of the night. People heard a big bang as the dams broke. People opened their doors and water swept into their homes. One man was holding onto the top of a tall street lamp to avoid being carried away as the water rose so high. People were stranded and screaming for hours on top of buildings and lots of buildings were collapsing all around them.”
Donate to the Libya Floods Appeal to help those affected by this catastrophe.