President Joe Biden announced on Sept. 18 that the United States will provide $11 million in humanitarian aid to support the people of eastern Libya as they recover from devastating floods that killed thousands.
The region has been grappling with the aftermath of catastrophic flooding that caused widespread destruction, leaving many in urgent need of assistance.
President Biden emphasized the U.S. commitment to standing with the Libyan people during this challenging time and supporting “a political path toward a unified, freely, and fairly elected government in Libya that can effectively respond to its people’s needs.”
The $11 million in U.S. aid will be channeled through both local and international organizations that are actively responding to the urgent humanitarian needs in eastern Libya.
“The Department of State and USAID will help coordinate the delivery of this aid to the people who need it most, joining the concerted efforts of nations and non-profits around the world providing critical support such as water, food, shelter, and medical assistance,” President Biden said in the statement.
The flooding was caused by an unusually strong Mediterranean storm named Daniel, which unleashed a torrent of water described by witnesses as 60 feet high, coursing down a valley that traversed the city of Derna, Libya, inundating the city and sweeping away entire families. Residents described the catastrophic flood as causing deafening explosions.
Derna officials have been grappling with the heartbreaking task of laying thousands to rest in mass graves. Derna Mayor Abdel-Moneim al-Ghaithi recently told the Saudi-owned Al Arabia television station that the grim death toll—at 5,500 confirmed fatalities—may triple, while 9,000 people remain unaccounted for.
The aid from the United States comes at a time when nations and nonprofit organizations from around the world are uniting in their efforts to provide critical support to the flood-affected regions of Libya. The aid will include essential provisions such as clean water, food, shelter, and medical assistance to address the immediate needs of the affected population.
President Biden said the flooding in eastern Libya has led to the displacement of thousands of people, the destruction of homes and infrastructure, and a dire need for basic necessities.
At least 30,000 people have been displaced in Derna alone, according to the U.N. International Organization for Migration. Several thousand residents from other eastern towns have also been compelled to evacuate their homes, according to the organization.
The floods severely affected access routes leading to Derna, causing delays in the arrival of international rescue teams and humanitarian aid. Local authorities managed to clear some routes, allowing some humanitarian convoys to access the city last week.
The International Committee of the Red Cross stated last week that it had supplied 6,000 body bags to local authorities, in addition to providing medical supplies, food, and other essentials to the hardest-hit communities. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has allocated $10 million in emergency funding and is calling for further assistance.
Rescue teams have been dispatched from neighboring countries including Egypt, Algeria, and Tunisia, as well as from Turkey, Italy, and the United Arab Emirates. The UK and Germany have also sent supplies to contribute to the relief efforts.
According to Libya's health minister, the storm claimed the lives of approximately 170 individuals in various locations across eastern Libya, including Bayda, Susa, Um Razaz, and Marj.