Libya floods: “defies comprehension”

Source The United Nations


Media – Press briefing by Georgette Gagnon, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, on the situation in the country.

Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, Georgette Denise Gagnon described that what she saw during her visit to Derna “defies comprehension,” adding that parts of the city were “barely recognizable, and people have either left or died.”

The Humanitarian Coordinator today (18 Sep) briefed the reporters on her recent trip to Derna and its surrounding areas that were affected by the floods.

She said, “The search and rescue operation is still ongoing. The chances of finding bodies still alive are quite slim, but the recovery of dead bodies is continuing.”

Gagnon highlighted, “Given the nature and scope of this tragedy, we’re very concerned about the health impacts and the potential spread of waterborne diseases, as water sources and sewer networks have been severely damaged.”

Another concern is that floodwaters have shifted landmines and unexploded remnants of war, leaving displaced people at risk of injury and death, the Humanitarian Coordinator added.

Gagnon also reiterated “One aspect that cannot be overstated, of course, is the psychological toll of this disaster, especially on children. And psychosocial support is a priority in our response.”

Asked about the UN’s work on the ground, the Humanitarian Coordinator said, “the response is coming together and we’re now trying to navigate the challenges of the damaged infrastructure, particularly some roads and bridges.”

She informed that teams from nine UN agencies have been on the ground, delivering aid and support to the people affected.

Asked about children going back to school, Gagnon said, “there are many displaced people living in schools, both in other parts of Derna and in the surrounding area. So the effort now is really to move people to safe shelter and get the schools open so that kids can go back to school and there can be some resumption of normal life, not only in parts of Derna, but of course, in Benghazi and other areas.”

The Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya visited Derna on Saturday (16 Sep).

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