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UNICEF cautions that the tragedy in Libya caused by floods is far from over.
Africa World News

UNICEF cautions that the tragedy in Libya caused by floods is far from over.

According to UNICEF, a significant number of children are impacted by the absence of crucial services like healthcare, education, and access to clean water.

According to Adele Khodr, Regional Director of UNICEF who recently visited Al Bayda and Derna, children are at high risk during times of disaster.

Catastrophic flooding

On September 10, Storm Daniel hit the eastern region of Libya, causing severe flooding and extensive damage in cities including Derna, Albayda, Soussa, Al-Marj, Shahat, Taknis, Battah, Tolmeita, Bersis, Tokra, and Al-Abyar.

A coastal city was inundated by torrential rain and the failure of two dams, causing whole neighborhoods to be swept into the Mediterranean Sea.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 4,000 individuals lost their lives in the floods and an additional 9,000 are still missing.

Although it is believed that the missing individuals have passed away, their remains are still stuck under rubble or in the ocean. Despite this, there is still optimism that their family members could potentially still be alive. The destructive flooding has also resulted in schools providing shelter for families who have been displaced.

Since the tragedy started, UNICEF has been collaborating with authorities and partners to address the pressing needs of children and families in the impacted regions.

Haunted day and night

Ms. Khodr stated that she witnessed the destructive impact of the floods on children and families. She also met with families who were struggling with a heavy emotional weight and spoke to distressed children who were unable to sleep or engage in normal activities.

“The lingering impact of past events continues to haunt their dreams and thoughts. It is crucial to now prioritize recovery efforts, such as aiding in the reopening of schools, offering psychosocial support, restoring primary health care facilities, and rehabilitating water systems. The tragedy is ongoing, and we must not overlook the children of Derna and Al Bayda.”

Cry for help

UNICEF is concerned that the disaster may have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of children, as they make up approximately 40% of the population. The exact number of child casualties has not been confirmed at this time.

The significant harm caused to essential health and education facilities puts children at risk of further interruptions to their education and the spread of life-threatening illnesses. In the affected area, 4 out of 117 schools were completely destroyed and 80 were partially damaged.

Waterborne illnesses are a growing concern due to water supply issues, significant damage to water sources and sewer networks.

Approximately half of the water systems in Derna are believed to have been harmed.

Clinging to hope

UNICEF has been actively supporting the children in eastern Libya since day two of the crisis. Sixty-five metric tonnes of relief supplies have been delivered to affected areas, including medical supplies for 50,000 people for three months, family hygiene kits for almost 17,000 people, 500 children’s winter clothing sets, 200 school-in-a-box kits and 32,000 water purification tablets.  

The agency for children has also sent out teams that provide child protection and psychosocial support through mobile means.

“Ms. Khodr emphasized the importance of investing in long-term recovery that prioritizes equity, resilience, and the well-being of children, as our life-saving response efforts continue.”