LIBYA: Over 11,000 Dead in Flooding as Pope Appeals to International Community for Aid

By Arnold Neliba

DERNA, SEPTEMBER 15, 2023 (CISA)-The death toll from the floods in Libya’s east has risen to 11,300, with thousands still missing.

As humanitarian partners seek to raise 71.4 million US Dollars to respond to the most urgent needs of 250,000 people targeted out of 884,000 people estimated to be in need over the next three months, Pope Francis has again appealed to the international community to come to the aid of hard-hit Libya, saying suffering people need our continued solidarity.

“I invite you to join my prayer for those who have lost their lives, their families and the displaced. Please do not fail in our solidarity with these brothers and sisters tried so hard by this calamity,” Pope Francis said during his Wednesday, September 13 General Audience adding “My thoughts go to the people of Libya, hard hit by violent rains that have caused flooding and inundation, causing numerous deaths and injuries, as well as extensive damage.”

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the hardest-hit areas include Derna, Albayda, Soussa, Al-Marj, Shahat, Taknis, Battah, Tolmeita, Bersis, Tokra, and Al-Abyar.

A heavy storm caused two dams to burst sweeping entire neighbourhoods from the city of Derna into the sea. The storms also caused severe weather conditions including strong winds and sudden heavy rainfall, causing widespread damage to homes and infrastructure.

Melville Fernandez, Caritas Australia’s Humanitarian Emergencies Associate Director while confirming an ongoing assessment of the situation and the critical needs at this time says “The situation in Libya is disastrous, with reports of entire neighbourhoods being swept away in some areas. People impacted by these floods will have immediate need of emergency shelter, and access to clean drinking water, food and medicine. Caritas agencies are working to assess the damage and get help to those who need it most.”

Cardinal Cristóbal López Romero, the archbishop of Rabat and President of Caritas Morocco in an interview with Caritas Internationalis also appealed for solidarity with Libya even as Morocco is reeling from a devastating earthquake that has claimed over 2,900 lives so far.

“We ask everyone to also be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Libya. The Church there is even smaller than ours, but they will do all they can to collaborate in helping the people who have suffered from this flood,” the cardinal urged.