TRIPOLI: Libya’s deadly floods have sparked a surge of solidarity and transcended political differences in a country wracked by division ever since the 2011 revolution that overthrew Muammar Qaddafi.
“As soon as we heard about this awful tragedy, people began a spontaneous campaign in Tajoura to help, with no state backing at all,” said Mohannad Bennour in the eastern suburb of Tripoli, the capital.
He said that since Monday, donations of “nearly 70,000 dinars (13,500 euros) have been sent in, more than 20,000 dinars on Friday alone.”
“People are handing in food, cleaning and hygiene products, towels, medicine… everything necessary for babies and women, and also clothing,” the 30-year-old added.
After Storm Daniel hit the east of the country on Sunday, two dams upstream from Derna burst, sending a wall of water into the wadi or dry riverbed that divides the port city of 100,000 people.
The devastation was apocalyptic. Entire neighborhoods and those who lived there were swept into the Mediterranean.
Othman Abdeljalil, the health minister in the administration that runs eastern Libya, has put the provisional death toll at 3,166. But the final number is likely to be far higher.
Many survivors of the disaster now find themselves homeless, and those who can have left the area.
The International Organization of Migration puts the number of people in eastern Libya displaced by the floods at 38,000 — 30,000 in Derna alone.
“Getting lifesaving supplies to people and preventing a secondary health crisis is essential,” Martin Griffiths, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, posted on X, formerly Twitter.
But getting aid to those who need it most is made more complicated by the east-west political split in Libya.