OCHA provides aid, disaster response team deploys in Libya floods


Anjali Sharma

GG News Bureau

UNITED NATIONS,15th Sept. UN Humanitarian and Coordination Affairs office on Wednesday said the UN system is providing aid to areas in eastern Libya impacted by the weekend floods and a disaster assessment team has been deployed to support government response and relief operations.

OCHA reported that over 5,000 people have died, many residents of Derna, which was hit by a torrent of water from two dams which burst, swept away whole neighbourhoods of the port city.

UN Spokesperson’s Office said a statement released on Wednesday stated “Search and rescue operations are actively underway, led by national agencies, military, the Libyan Red Crescent and local volunteers.”

The Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Libya, Georgette Gagnon has tasked an emergency response team to support local authorities and partners.

Gagnon said that a team from the Geneva-based UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination operation, part of humanitarian coordination office OCHA, has been deployed to support response and relief operations.

Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, announced an initial allocation of $10 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund to support those affected by the floods.

Oil-rich Libya has in effect been split since 2014 between an interim, internationally recognized Government operating from the capital, Tripoli, and another one in the east, with many armed groups also operating on its territory. The two sides signed a ceasefire in 2020, but political rivalries continue.

UN human rights chief, Volker Türk, issued a statement stated that he was profoundly distressed “that thousands of lives have been so brutally swept away in eastern Libya, and so many more people have lost their loved ones, their homes, their communities, and their access to basic needs.”

He called on all Libyan political actors to overcome the deadlock preventing national unity and division, “and to act collectively in ensuring access to relief.

This is a time for unity of purpose: all those affected must receive support, without regard for any affiliations. It is important that particular care is taken to ensure protection of groups in vulnerable situations – who are rendered even more at risk in the aftermath of such a disaster.”

Secretary-General António Guterres said that the UN was ready to “work in any and every way we can with partners to help get emergency assistance to those who so desperately need it.”

WFP said on Wednesday it had dispatched its first shipment of food assistance to Libya after the floods which have left 10,000 injured or missing.

The agency try to reach 5,000 families whose lives were turned upside down when the dams burst after being hammered by Hurricane Daniel over the weekend.

WFP said “Entire neighborhoods in Derna disappeared, along with their residents, swept away by water after the two aging structures collapsed, creating a catastrophic situation that is out of control”.

OCHA said Derna is the worst-affected city while Albayda, Almarj, Benghazi, Bayada, Al Owailia, Taknes (AlJabal Al Akhdar), Talmeitha, Tobruk, Toukra, Shahhat, and Sousa were also hit.

WFP commenced its response with cooperating partner LibAid, distributing rations that include sugar, pasta, rice, wheat flour, tomato paste, white beans and cooking oil to hundreds of families across 16 locations in the capital of the eastern administration, Benghazi.

Over 2,000 storm-affected and displaced people who fled from Derna to Benghazi have received food and distributions are ongoing.

WFP assists 52,000 people in with in-kind food and cash grants in Libya, including internally displaced people, returnees, and migrants in urban areas.

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