On September 10, 2023, Storm Daniel made landfall in northeastern Libya after reaching Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey. Daniel is the deadliest and costliest Mediterranean hurricane in modern history.
Impacts & Figures:
- According to a September 16, 2023 UN report, Storm Daniel had caused a death toll of nearly 4,000 in Libya with 9,000 individuals still missing.
- The storm displaced an additional 40,000 Libyans.
- The Medicane (Mediterranean hurricane) inflicted the most damage on eastern Libya, spanning from Benghazi to Derna, roughly 100 miles in total.
- The UN launched a Flash Appeal for $71.4 million to provide lifesaving assistance to the most vulnerable of the 884,000 people estimated to be in need.
- Flash Appeals are used to rapidly secure funds from international donors to support emergency response efforts.
- On September 18, President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. will provide an additional $11 million in humanitarian assistance to the people of Libya, following an initial $1 million to meet immediate needs.
- Other countries that have prepared or sent aid include Qatar, Turkey, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Kuwait, Algeria, Germany, Romania, Finland, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
- Libya’s infrastructure has suffered from widespread neglect due to government division. Calls for maintenance on structures, such as Derna’s aging dams, were ignored.
- When Derna’s two dams broke, 30 million cubic meters of water rushed downstream towards the city, escalating the natural disaster.
- On September 18, hundreds of protesters in Derna demanded the removal of officials responsible for the infrastructure failures, corruption, and neglect that exacerbated the disaster. There are calls for mass protests in Libya on Friday, September 22, 2023.
- Libya’s general prosecutor, Al-Sediq Al-Sour, said prosecutors would investigate local authorities and previous governments to uncover any negligence that led to the dams’ collapse.
- Libyan rights groups and NGOs have expressed doubt in Al-Sour and are calling for an independent international committee to conduct an investigation and hold actors accountable.
- According to the UN, nearly 300,000 children are at increased risk of diarrhea, cholera, dehydration, and malnutrition due to a rise in waterborne diseases after the destructive flooding.
- Climate change made the heavy rainfall up to 50 times more likely and delivered 50% more rain, according to scientists from the World Weather Attribution.
- The tens of thousands of displaced Libyans are at an increased risk of exposure to landmines leftover from years of war that have shifted due to the flood waters.
A Divided State:
- After Muammar Gaddafi was ousted by a NATO backed Arab Spring movement in 2011, Libya experienced years of internal division and armed conflict culminating in a civil war from 2014-2020.
- The main actors in the civil war were the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and the Libyan National Army (LNA) in Tobruk.
- The GNA is backed by the UN, Turkey, Qatar, and Italy. The LNA is backed by Russia, Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and partially by France and Jordan.
- On October 23, 2020, both parties signed a ceasefire.
- In March 2021, a UN-backed peace process established the Government of National Unity, allowing the LNA and the GNA to share governing power.
- Elections were scheduled for December 2021, but the nation’s election commission postponed them indefinitely due to a lack of consensus around election rules and governing powers.
- In August 2023, the UN envoy to Libya revealed that they would seek a unified government before another election was planned.