On September 11, the worst Mediterranean storm on record, Daniel, killed around 10,000 people, close to half of them in Libya. The storm overwhelmed and collapsed two dams near the city of Derna, causing catastrophic flooding which resulted in the deaths of some 4,300 Libyans and displaced some 30,000 more.
It would be easy to blame the devastation on climate change, or even just the luck of the draw. But long before that September day, experts warned that the two dams, up-stream from Derna and its 90,000 inhabitants, were in dire need of maintenance and therefore posed a significant risk of flooding. But due to Libya’s fractured political culture featuring two rival governments, a lack of agreement on how to fix the dams and the disappearance of two million dollars meant for their maintenance, resulted in administration after administration ignoring the problem.
In the aftermath of the storm, people and communities from all over the country rushed in to help. It’s time for such unity to reach into the political sphere. The division and in-fighting among political factions has had a serious impact on many aspects of life, including infrastructure maintenance. Libya’s leaders must take note and emulate the actions of their people.
The United States strongly supports “[the call of the UN Support Mission in Libya] for a unified and coordinated Libyan national mechanism” said United States Representative at the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
“A mechanism that will help deliver humanitarian assistance and address reconstruction in a transparent and accountable manner and will help facilitate additional support and technical assistance from the United States and other international partners.”
“As the Libyan people work to rebuild, east-west cooperation on flood reconstruction and planning is essential. This is not a moment for division and political posturing,” said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield.
“The devastating floods, recent violence in Tripoli, and turmoil along Libya’s southern border also underscore the urgent need for unified Libyan governance. It is far past time for political actors to put aside their differences and work together not only in the post-flood reconstruction effort, but in the pursuit of a credible path to elections and a dignified government that delivers for the Libyan people,” she said.
“We are fast approaching the second anniversary of the parties’ broken promises to hold elections in December 2021,” said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. “The Libyan people deserve the opportunity to elect a unified government of their choosing.”