On September 10, Storm Daniel made landfall in Libya, bringing strong winds and heavy rainfall to northeastern areas of the country. The next day, two dams upstream of the coastal city of Derna collapsed, releasing 30 million cubic meters of water that ripped through the city of 90,000 inhabitants.
This catastrophic event swept entire buildings, with thousands of people still inside them, into the Mediterranean Sea. According to local authorities, one-quarter of the city has disappeared. Thousands of people—some estimates run as high as 20,000—were killed by the flooding, while tens of thousands have been injured or displaced.
International Medical Corps immediately sent a response team to the region to conduct assessments and provide humanitarian aid. We are working with the government and local health facilities to coordinate efforts, are rushing medical supplies and equipment to help families affected by the floods, and are ready to deploy our EMT Type 1 facility to the region if requested.
Our Response to the Flooding in Libya
Since the outbreak of war in Libya in early 2011, the country has faced ongoing economic and political instability, and fighting between violent militias. International Medical Corps provides country-wide emergency medical services, trains health workers and delivers vital medicines and supplies to vulnerable people in the country, including refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees.
The storm caused significant damage to infrastructure, including roads, telecommunications services, power—and, critically, healthcare facilities. Humanitarian needs are extraordinarily high in the areas affected by the floods, and include the following:
- support for health services, including medical supplies and equipment, and medical personnel;
- food assistance;
- temporary shelter for people who have had their homes destroyed or rendered uninhabitable;
- non-food items (NFIs) for these displaced families, including tents, blankets, basic household items, hygiene kits, cooking utensils and flashlights;
- mental health services and support for survivors grappling with immense emotional trauma; and
- clean water, working sanitation facilities and hygiene promotion, to prevent the spread of waterborne and other infectious diseases.
International Medical Corps’ rapid-response team immediately deployed to Derna to conduct an assessment and meet with partners, including staff at one of the few functional hospitals in the city. Government authorities granted our team early access to the area based on our strong relationships and history of effective programming in the country.
As part of our response, International Medical Corps is continuing to rush essential lifesaving medicines and medical supplies to Derna and the surrounding region to assist with trauma treatment and other and lifesaving measures.
We also are working with local organizations and community leaders to rapidly expand our response, in order to prevent the spread of disease and provide continued medical and mental health care for survivors.
And, as the only international NGO classified by the World Health Organization as an Emergency Medical Team (EMT) Type 1, Fixed and Mobile, we are ready to deploy an EMT if requested by government authorities and the WHO.