We Are Responding to
Flooding in Libya

On September 10, 2023, 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 disappeared. In the flood-affected area, 84% of hospitals and 88% of primary health centers were nonfunctional or only partially functional.

Thousands of people—some estimates run as high as 20,000—were killed by the flooding, while more than 43,000 people in Derna were displaced. International Medical Corps promptly dispatched its rapid response team, enabling them to quickly evaluate the situation, pinpoint urgent needs and collaborate with key stakeholders. As a result, we deployed 12 Type 1 EMTs across 30 health facilities in eight municipalities, encompassing Albayada, Albayda, Benghazi, Derna, Misrata, Sousa, Tobruk and Tokra. International Medical Corps is the only international NGO classified by the World Health Organization as an Emergency Medical Team (EMT) Type 1 provider for both Fixed and Mobile configurations.

Daniel, a type of storm known as a “medicane,” packed sustained winds of up to 80 kph (50 mph) and dumped up to 414 mm (16 in) of rain in one day—more than some desert regions get in months
According to the UN, 900,000 were affected by the floods, in a country where 300,000 people already needed humanitarian assistance before this disaster
The breach of two dams near Derna released 30 million cubic meters of water that ripped through the city of 90,000 inhabitants, sweeping entire buildings and the families in them out to sea
In the flood-affected area, 84% of hospitals and 88% of primary health centers were nonfunctional or only partially functional

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 countrywide 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 emergency and essential 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;
  • access of women and girls to safe spaces to support gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and response;
  • training for national healthcare providers;
  • access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services; and
  • rehabilitation of WASH infrastructure in health facilities and installation of community desalination plants.

After the flood, 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.

Healthcare Support

Most of the flood-affected communities in Libya continue to experience critical shortages of qualified health staff, essential medical supplies and damaged infrastructure. Our teams provide healthcare consultations and health awareness sessions, distribute and donate medicines, medical equipment and supplies to health facilities and train healthcare providers. We currently have 10 EMTs—three in fixed locations and seven mobile EMTs serving 25 health facilities (HFs). We have conducted more than 30,000 healthcare consultations and provided health, mental health and hygiene promotion awareness sessions for more than 40,000 people. We have trained more than 1,100 healthcare providers and established two emergency rooms at two Derna HFs.

Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS)

International Medical Corps collaborated with the Libyan National Centre for Disease Control and signed an agreement with the Citizen Service Center to operate the national mental health hotline, on which operators and MHPSS counselors provide remote services, including psychological counseling, stress management and referrals for specialized services for those who require advanced interventions. Furthermore, we deploy counselors and case managers to areas affected by the storm as part of emergency health teams, which provide psychological first aid (PFA). We also provide training and services that include individual and group consultations, outreach, and awareness campaigns that destigmatize accessing mental health services and that build coping skills.

Gender-Based Violence

Because women and girls face additional risks and challenges in the aftermath of natural disasters, leading to displacement and loss of support networks, International Medical Corps’ GBV teams have been providing ongoing support to women and girls affected by the floods, including GBV prevention and response interventions, awareness-raising activities and individual or group psychosocial support. We create a safe and comfortable environment where women and girls can feel heard, featuring activities designed to enable them to express their thoughts and feelings safely, and promoting community resilience, recovery and healing.

International Medical Corps also focuses on enhancing coordination and capacity building of local responders through on-the-job training and workshops on GBV prevention and response, GBV case management and establishing women’s and girls’ safe spaces. Our teams also distribute dignity kits to women and girls affected by the floods.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, and Non-food Items

Storm Daniel caused significant damage to eastern Libya’s water and sanitation infrastructure, resulting in acute water shortages and raising concerns about environmental degradation and public health risks. The floodwaters increased the risk of groundwater contamination, which can lead to outbreaks of waterborne diseases.International Medical Corps supports communities living in flood-affected areas by providing them with safe and adequate water, increasing their water storage capacity and monitoring water quality and treatment. We rehabilitated WASH infrastructure in 11 HFs, and installed four desalination plants in Derna, providing safe water to 3,200 people daily. We also provide environmental health and infection prevention-and-control kits, and conduct hygiene-promotion campings in flood-affected communities.

We train community health volunteers on key hygiene messages and build the capacity of health facility staff by improving their knowledge of medical waste disposal and water quality monitoring. We also help communities and local authorities take ownership of WASH projects, to ensure their sustainability and effectiveness.

Help People Affected by Flooding in Libya

Donate today to provide medical and mental health care support to families affected by this devastating flood.