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  • Meghan Leavitt

Deadly and Devastating Floods in Libya

Meghan Leavitt

Torrential rain hit Libya, causing mass flooding throughout the region on Sep. 10, which led to the bursting of two dams in the city of Derna. The tropical cyclone Daniel moved south, striking Libya and dumping about 1.31 feet of rain in less than 24 hours. Before traveling across the Mediterranean, the storm had already caused damage in other regions, including central Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey.

The flooding resulted in the sweeping away of neighborhoods, bridges and cars with thousands of casualties reported, including both deaths and missing persons. There have been 3,958 confirmed deaths and over 11,300 people reported as missing.

The torrential downpour of rain from storm Daniel was worsened by deforestation and urbanization. While human actions may have contributed to this situation, there are also other issues to consider. The Libyan government and parliament have not taken steps to aid or investigate the causes of the dam failures.

Hichem Abu Chkiouat, Minister of Civil Aviation for the east, said, “Bodies are lying everywhere, in the sea, in the valleys, under the buildings. I am not exaggerating when I say that 25% of the city has disappeared. Many, many buildings have collapsed.”

Neither the government nor parliament has issued any response to the crisis yet. Parliament convened an emergency meeting, but the people of Libya are still waiting to hear a statement from their government. The government is also receiving criticism for its lack of awareness about the situation.

In an interview with Leila Fadel of National Public Radio, Libyan activist Asma Khalifa highlights several flaws that have become evident during this crisis. Khalifa points out that residents had identified the dam as vulnerable for an extended period. She joins others in expressing concerns about the government’s failure to act despite being aware of the issue. Khalifa characterizes the government as “careless” and lamented that “our lives don’t matter to them.”

A lack of central government and a civil war has left Libya more vulnerable. The region has witnessed a lack of infrastructure and increased vulnerability in the government since the civil war. People speaking out against the government say they don’t trust the authorities.

Mass protests are being organized to demand accountability from their government and to call for an official international investigation into the circumstances that led to the two dams bursting on Sep. 10.

Elham Saudi, the director of Lawyers for Justice in Libya, stated in an interview with “The New York Times,” “The focus needs to be on exactly what happened, and then we decide who needs to be held responsible. But this cannot be done by Libyan authorities because they are unwilling or unable to do it.”

This community displays a great deal of resilience. They are speaking out against the government and using their voices to make their experiences heard. As readers, we should take pride in the Libyan citizens and all those who have been affected by this tragic event. The government needs to do more to help its citizens.

This entails addressing the issue directly and acknowledging that there is a problem that needs to be resolved. The powers that be in Libya need to address infrastructure-related gaps as well as the effects of the ever-increasing havoc wreaked by climate change. People’s lives have been tragically affected, not only by the loss of their homes and communities but also by the loss of friends, family and loved ones.

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