Chief Prosecutor Takes Action Amidst Devastation in Derna
In the wake of the catastrophic flooding that has ravaged Derna, Libya, the Chief Prosecutor of the eastern government, Al Siddiq Al Sou, has declared his commitment to prosecute those found responsible for the neglect of two crucial dams in the region. As the city grapples with the grim aftermath of the deluge, including thousands of corpses surfacing and decaying amid the rubble, the prosecutor’s vow aims to seek justice amidst the devastation.
International Concerns Over Mass Graves
The announcement comes amidst international concerns raised by organizations like the World Health Organisation and other aid agencies, urging Libyan authorities to cease the practice of burying flood victims in mass graves. Such burials not only raise concerns about long-term mental distress for grieving families but also pose health risks, particularly if situated near water sources.
UK Increases Aid to Libya and Morocco
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) has stepped up its aid efforts for Libya and Morocco, where a deadly earthquake has claimed thousands of lives. The UK has allocated £10 million to provide essential provisions, including emergency shelter items, portable solar lanterns, and water filters. Furthermore, a specialized emergency medical team, comprising health and sanitation experts, will be dispatched to Libya to conduct rapid medical assessments in areas affected by the disaster.
Grim Statistics and Ongoing Recovery Efforts
According to a United Nations report, over 1,000 individuals have been laid to rest in mass graves since the torrential rain on Sunday led to the bursting of two dams. Derna, a city already deeply divided by a decade of conflict and political turmoil, now grapples with the monumental tragedy. The Libyan Red Crescent has reported a staggering 11,300 flooding-related deaths in Derna as of Thursday, with another 10,100 individuals reported missing, although the prospects of finding survivors remain bleak.
Bilal Sablouh, the regional forensics manager for Africa at the International Committee of the Red Cross, described the grim scene, stating that bodies are strewn across the streets, washed ashore, and buried under collapsed structures and debris. Divers are also conducting search operations in the waters off the Mediterranean coastal city.
Sky News Africa correspondent Yousra Elbagir, reporting from Derna, highlighted the scale of the catastrophe, revealing that at least 20% of the city’s population has either perished or is unaccounted for. She emphasized the urgent need for more diggers to aid in the search and recovery efforts.
Focus on Neglect and Accountability
Chief Prosecutor Al Siddiq Al Sou asserted on Friday evening that the public prosecutor’s office has summoned the dam’s administration and the authority responsible for water resources. Investigations are centered on the funds allocated for the maintenance of the two dams, with reports indicating visible cracks before the catastrophic flooding. Al Sou assured the citizens that those found negligent would face legal consequences, including criminal prosecution.
Lingering Threats and Health Concerns
Authorities have cautioned that the number of casualties may rise due to the potential spread of waterborne diseases and the movement of explosives dislodged when the dams collapsed, unleashing a devastating wall of water upon the city. Health Minister Ibrahim al Arabi of Libya’s Tripoli-based Western government expressed concerns about groundwater contamination due to the mingling of water with corpses, dead animals, refuse, and chemical substances. He urged people to refrain from approaching wells in Derna.
Challenges in Recovery Efforts
Access to the flooded coastal city of Derna remains limited as authorities grapple with the daunting task of excavating through mud and debris and searching within hollowed-out structures for the more than 10,000 individuals still unaccounted for. The disaster has prompted a rare show of unity in war-torn Libya, despite years of conflict between rival governments and various militia forces.
However, the response to the crisis has been marred by logistical challenges, difficulties in delivering aid to the hardest-hit areas, and the extensive destruction of Derna’s infrastructure, including multiple bridge collapses.
International Aid and Support
In response to the disaster, the United Nations has pledged $10 million from its Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), with the United Kingdom serving as one of the largest donors. The UK has also substantially increased its aid package from £1 million to £10 million, directed towards both the response to the flooding in Libya and the earthquake in Morocco.
Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, Lord Tariq Ahmad, expressed the UK’s commitment to support the Libyan people during this dire time, emphasizing the delivery of crucial life-saving provisions such as shelter, water filters, and medical assessments.