Disasters & Accidents

Devastated Derna receives rescue teams, but restricts journalists after protests

Tripoli, Sept 22 (EFE). – Rescue and humanitarian aid efforts continue in the Libyan city of Derna, devastated by torrential rains on September 10, but with few witnesses since the eastern authorities restricted access to journalists.

The decision came shortly after protests on Monday in the Plaza de los Martires against the management of the disaster.

Amnesty International (AI) on Thursday called on the authorities in eastern Libya to “immediately” lift all restrictions on the media imposed by the Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF).

The LAAF is under the command of Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who controls the country’s east and competes with the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) in the west.

The division between these two powers has come under scrutiny in light of the recent crisis in the country’s northeast.

According to the latest official data from the World Health Organization (WHO), as of Friday, September 22, nearly 4,000 people have been identified as dead, and the Red Crescent adds another 10,000 who are still missing.

Libyan authorities in the east of the country confirmed the burial of 3,351 people on Thursday, which is expected to rise.

In the coastal city of Derna, ground zero of the tragedy, where one-third of the homes in a town of about 100,000 were damaged, the search for survivors continued Friday despite slim hopes of recovering anyone alive.

Navy ships, working with the coast guards of the Libyan cities of Benghazi, Misrata, and Zawiya, as well as Turkish and Russian frogman teams, found 245 bodies.

The search and recovery team of the Western Branches Emergency Medical and Support Center also recovered 50 bodies in Derna on Friday.


Internet and communication outages in Derna began shortly after Monday’s demonstration, in which hundreds of angry residents demanded that Parliament Speaker Aquila Salah, who supports the Eastern Executive that controls the region, be removed.

“Libya, national unity. East or West. Libyans are brothers, and there are no differences between them,” the demonstrators shouted.

The Internet was restored on Thursday without any protests. However, access to Derna remains restricted to the media, as EFE was able to verify.

International and national NGOs can operate in the area.

The country’s administrative division already complicates connections between the West and the East.

However, the humanitarian crisis has highlighted the causes and consequences of the fragmentation. At the same time, leaders from both sides claim to be in charge of managing the crisis.

On Friday, the government of eastern Libya called on the international community to attend a forum on October 10 in the devastated city of Derna.


“Since the beginning of the crisis, journalists have reported the need for security clearances and other access restrictions, as well as interference in their work by LAAF affiliates,” AI said.

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