UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency’s, teams in Libya are scaling up operations to respond to the fast-growing needs of thousands of internally displaced individuals, refugees, and others affected by the devastating floods caused by Storm Daniel.
Storm Daniel hit eastern Libya on September 10, destroying buildings, uprooting people from their homes, and submerging hospitals, schools, and essential infrastructure. The unprecedented flooding has resulted in at least 3,958 confirmed deaths as of September 16, and thousands more who are still missing, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
These figures are expected to continue to rise in the coming period, as search and rescue crews work tirelessly to find survivors and victims.
UNHCR teams are working closely with national and international partners, including LibAid, as part of a joint UN response in addressing the humanitarian needs and ensuring timely assistance.
UNHCR leads the UN coordination for shelter, non-food items, and protection. Core relief items had already been distributed to the affected population in Derna and Benghazi.
Moreover, an airlift carrying fifty three metric tonnes of humanitarian supplies from UNHCR’s Dubai-based stockpile, one of the biggest in the world, landed in Benina airport near Benghazi. The shipment contained tarpaulin sheets, kitchen sets, solar lamps, blankets, and other emergency relief items that thousands of affected people desperately need. The supplies will be deployed and distributed by UNHCR and its partners to 10,000 affected individuals in the coming days, and more aid supplies are expected to arrive soon.
Aseer Al-Madaien, UNHCR’s Chief of Mission in Libya, said, “The situation on the ground is catastrophic, and the sheer level of destruction is unfathomable. Thousands of individuals have lost everything, not least their loved ones. Many had already been displaced before and need all the support they can get to overcome this tragedy.”
She added, “UNHCR teams are working tirelessly to attend to the immediate needs, but much more work needs to be done in the weeks and months to come to help people overcome their losses and tend to the psychological scars that this devastating storm left in its wake. We reiterate our call to the international community to urgently support relief efforts. Now is not the time to turn our backs on the situation in Libya.”
Approximately 50,000 refugees and asylum-seekers are registered with UNHCR in Libya, including over 1,000 living in the affected areas prior to the floods. Additionally, around 46,000 internally displaced persons were hosted in eastern Libya before the floods, 2,800 of which were based in Derna. The Storm Daniel disaster has triggered a new displacement, including many who were already displaced prior to the recent floods. An estimated 30,000 people are now displaced in Derna alone.