Disasters & Accidents

UN redeploys aid team from Morocco to Libya in view of the scale of the tragedy

Geneva, Sept 15 (EFE).- The United Nations, with the agreement of the Moroccan authorities, has redeployed to Libya a team of international aid coordination experts previously deployed to Morocco.

The true extent of the disaster caused by a cyclone and the collapse of two dams that destroyed the city of Derna is still unknown.

“I’ve heard there are speculations of up to 20,000 maybe dead, I believethere’s 4,000 deaths registered at the moment,” said UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths.

“We don’t know the extent of the problem, the floods and the torrents have destroyed buildings and the sludge still conceals the level of need and death,” he added.

The most urgent needs in Libya are shelter for people who have lost their homes and all their belongings, food, medical supplies to prevent infectious diseases and clean water, as well as psychosocial support to help those affected move on after such a trauma. “Some have lost 50 or more family members,” Griffiths said.

The UN’s top aid official said 900,000 people in the country had been affected, “on top of a situation where 300,000 people in Libya already needed humanitarian aid”.

UN experts will work with the Libyan authorities to coordinate aid, because “If you don’t have coordination, there’s chaos. And that loses lives,” Griffiths said.

The decision to mobilise this team was taken because it was already in the region and its members speak Arabic, which will facilitate their work.

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies coordinator Tamer Ramadan said there was still hope of finding survivors in Libya.

Commenting on the estimated 10,000 missing, he said that many people who fled the city in search of help may not have been able to contact their families to tell them they were alive because of the breakdown in communications.

Ramadan assured that the authorities in eastern Libya, where the disaster occurred, were working with humanitarian agencies to carry out their work. EFE


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