UNDRR Statement on floods in Libya

Source(s): United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
Storm Daniel Causes Flooding in Libya
European Union, Copernicus Sentinel-2 imagery

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) expresses its sympathies to the people of Libya in the aftermath of the widespread flooding in the eastern part of the country. Reports have put the number of missing people at 10,000, with reported wide-scale destruction in the city of Derna.  

“My sympathies go out to the people of Libya, who are suffering at the hands of a terrible disaster. I echo the call made by Ms. Georgette Gagnon, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, that all local, national, and international partners join hands to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the people in eastern Libya during this difficult time,” said Ms. Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.

According to the International Organization for Migration, storm Daniel, which made landfall in Libya on Sunday, 10 September 2023, led to significant infrastructure damage, including road networks, and disrupted the telecommunications network.

As the impacts of disaster often cascade from the original point of impact, we can expect a rise in the number of secondary impacts, from water-borne diseases to food insecurity and increased poverty.

Libya is already home to an estimated 823,000 people, including 248,000 children, who require humanitarian assistance due to ongoing political instability, conflict and a deteriorating economy, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

These conditions increase the vulnerability of people to disasters, which is why international assistance is needed urgently to address immediate humanitarian needs. Response and recovery efforts should also seek to build long-term resilience to disasters by reducing vulnerabilities.  

UNDRR stands in solidarity with the people of Libya in this difficult time and calls on all its partners to support the people of Libya to build back better from disaster and to invest in enhancing the country’s resilience to disasters, including through the implementation of the Early Warnings for All initiative.  

While the flooding was triggered by a powerful storm, it is the city’s vulnerability that ultimately caused the disaster. This vulnerability stemmed from weak infrastructure that had been neglected after years of conflict and instability, causing the collapse of two dams that protected the city. 

An early warning system is only as strong as its weakest point. This tragedy is an example of why the approach of the Early Warnings for All initiative is so important. It is not enough that warnings are issued; risk information must take into account all risks, and alerts must trigger early action. That is why it is critical that donors and partners work together to provide early warning and action capacity in the most vulnerable countries, especially those in fragile situations, as a safeguard when all else fails and lives are put in danger.  

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