Sunday, September 17, 2023

Libyans Unite in Coping with Flood Disaster, Setting Aside Rivalry


Libya Floods: Solidarity Amidst Tragedy

Libya has been plagued by political division and turmoil since the 2011 revolution that toppled Muammar Qaddafi. However, in the face of deadly floods that have devastated the country, Libyans have come together in a surge of solidarity, transcending their political differences.

The floods, triggered by Storm Daniel, wreaked havoc in the eastern part of the country. Two dams upstream from Derna burst, unleashing a wall of water into the dry riverbed that divides the port city. The devastation was catastrophic, with entire neighborhoods and their residents swept into the Mediterranean. The provisional death toll stands at 3,166, but it is expected to rise significantly.

In response to the tragedy, ordinary Libyans have taken it upon themselves to provide aid and support. In Tajoura, an eastern suburb of Tripoli, a spontaneous campaign has emerged, with people donating money and essential supplies. Donations have poured in, totaling nearly 70,000 dinars (13,500 euros), with more than 20,000 dinars contributed in a single day. Food, cleaning products, hygiene items, medicine, and clothing have been handed in to assist those affected by the floods.

The International Organization for Migration estimates that 38,000 people have been displaced in eastern Libya, with 30,000 of them in Derna alone. The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, emphasizes the urgency of delivering lifesaving supplies and preventing a secondary health crisis. However, the political divide between the rival administrations in the east and west of Libya complicates the distribution of aid.

Despite the political rift, Libyans from all walks of life are rallying together. Fundraising efforts are underway across the country, and volunteer aid workers have rushed to the disaster area. The hope is that this sense of solidarity will endure beyond the immediate crisis. Bader Marii, a volunteer aid worker in Tripoli, stresses the importance of ongoing support for Derna, as the country’s division means that rebuilding efforts will take twice as long as under normal circumstances.

Civil society organizations, which have faced persecution and harassment from authorities, have also stepped up to provide assistance. These groups have been quick to respond to the aftermath of the floods, despite the challenges they have faced. Elham Saudi, director of Lawyers For Justice in Libya, highlights the significance of civil society in holding those responsible for the tragedy accountable. She believes that this moment should mark the end of the culture of impunity in Libya.

While the floods have brought devastation and loss, they have also revealed the resilience and compassion of the Libyan people. In a country torn apart by political strife, the solidarity displayed in response to this natural disaster offers a glimmer of hope. It is a reminder that, regardless of their differences, Libyans can come together in times of crisis to support one another and rebuild their communities.

As the recovery efforts continue, it is crucial for international organizations and governments to support Libya in its path towards recovery. By providing aid and resources, they can help ensure that the sense of solidarity witnessed during this tragedy translates into long-term stability and unity for the country. The Libyan people have shown their strength and resilience; now it is up to the world to stand with them and help them rebuild their nation.

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