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Libia

The most tragic flood of the 21st century

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The flood in Libya is already the most tragic flood of the 21st century – according to local authorities, the number of victims exceeded 11,000 people and will continue to increase. Cyclone Daniel, which formed a few days ago in the Mediterranean Sea, devastated north-eastern Libya, causing an unprecedented scale of destruction. The Polish Medical Mission together with the Jordanian organization JHAS will help the inhabitants of Libya and support local hospitals.

A rare subtropical storm brought heavy rainfall that covered the Libyan coast with a layer of water. On September 10, as the storm intensified, the periodic rivers quickly turned into rapid streams, and these into uncontrolled floods covering entire cities. The estimated number has now exceeded 11,000, and another 10,000 people are considered missing. The situation is the worst in the city of Darna, with a population of 100,000, where two dams were destroyed. Until now, part of the country is under a layer of polluted water. High temperatures, even at night exceeding 20 degrees, increase the risk of epidemics – long-lasting water may cause cholera, salmonellosis and tetanus. In addition, damaged infrastructure makes it difficult to pump and purify water. It is necessary to evacuate residents to higher areas and organize places of temporary stay, while still searching for the missing people.

We already have the first demand lists from hospitals, mostly antibacterial and anti-infective agents. Our local partner, the JHAS organization, operates on site, with which we have been cooperating for many years in the Middle East and North Africa. They help us collect information about the needs and situation of residents. We will focus on providing medical assistance and supporting the facilities where the injured are sent, says Dorota Zadroga from the Polish Medical Mission.

To meet the basic needs of residents, it is necessary to provide drinking water, food rations and baby food, and to provide temporary shelter for people who have lost their homes. However, some activities must be focused on preventing further disasters, this time resulting from pollutants mixing in water.

The needs are enormous. This applies not only to people injured in the flood, but there is also a lack of medical equipment for those helping people. Polluted water is now a huge threat: many of its sources have been polluted, the element has carried the bodies of the dead, and it has also destroyed some cemeteries. This means that contact with it may result in an infection that is dangerous to health. We urgently need antibacterial drugs and vaccines, for example against tetanus. The most difficult situation is, of course, in Derna, but there are also many victims and destruction in other cities. Many people run away from their homes, often they simply no longer exist. They need shelter, food, access to clean water, but it is not easy because virtually every city on the coast has been affected by flooding. Libya is a very family country, and there have been tragedies in which all people in multi-generational homes died, entire families disappeared from the face of the earth in an instant. But perhaps the only people who survived the loss of their loved ones are in an even more difficult situation – they are now in the worst mental state and need support. Libya is now united – people from east and west have come to help, side by side. Political or religious views do not matter. If anything good can come from this tragedy, it is that we are all facing it together for the first time in a long time, adds Omar Bensrity, representative of the Polish Medical Mission and JHAS in Libya.

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