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September 20, 2023

UNHCR scales up humanitarian response in flood-ravaged eastern Libya as tens of thousands are newly displaced

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and its teams in Libya are scaling up operations to respond to the fast-growing needs of thousands of internally displaced people, refugees and others affected by the devastating floods caused by Storm Daniel.

Storm Daniel hit eastern Libya hard on Sunday September 10, leaving thousands dead, many more missing, destroying buildings, uprooting people from their homes, and submerging hospitals, schools, and essential infrastructure. The unprecedented flooding has resulted in at least 3,958 confirmed deaths as of September 16, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and thousands more are still missing. These figures are expected to continue rising in the coming days and weeks as search-and-rescue crews work tirelessly to find survivors and victims.

UNHCR teams in the country are working closely with national and international partners, including LibAid, as part of a joint UN response to address the humanitarian needs and ensure timely assistance.

UNHCR leads UN coordination for shelter, non-food items and protection. Emergency relief items have already been distributed to affected populations in Derna and Benghazi.

Yesterday, an airlift carrying fifty-three metric tons of humanitarian supplies from one of UNHCR’s biggest stockpiles in the world located in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), landed in Benina airport near Benghazi. The shipment contained tarpaulin sheets, kitchen sets, solar lamps, blankets, and other emergency relief items that thousands of affected people desperately need. The supplies will be distributed by UNHCR and partners to 10,000 affected individuals in the coming days. More aid supplies are expected to arrive in eastern Libya.

Aseer Al-Madaien, UNHCR’s Chief of Mission in Libya, said: “The situation on the ground is catastrophic, and the sheer level of destruction is unfathomable. Thousands of individuals have lost everything, not least their loved ones. Many had already been displaced before, and need all the support they can get to overcome this tragedy.”

She added: “UNHCR teams are working tirelessly to attend to the immediate needs, but much more work needs to be done in the weeks and months to come to help people overcome their losses and tend to the psychological scars that this devastating storm left in its wake. We reiterate our call to the international community to urgently support relief efforts. Now is not the time to turn our backs on the situation in Libya.” 

Approximately 50,000 refugees and asylum-seekers are registered with UNHCR in Libya, including over 1,000 living in the affected areas prior to the floods. Additionally, some 46,000 Internally Displaced People (IDPs) were hosted in eastern Libya before the floods, including 2,800 in Derna. This disaster has triggered new displacement, including for many who were displaced before. An estimated 30,000 people are now displaced in Derna alone. 

Originally posted by UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency