Over 16,000 children displaced following Libya floods: UNICEF


Published: 2023-09-28 18:43

Last Updated: 2023-11-17 19:47

Over 16,000 children displaced following Libya floods: UNICEF
Over 16,000 children displaced following Libya floods: UNICEF

More than 16,000 children are displaced in eastern Libya following Africa’s deadliest storm in recorded history, UNICEF warned today. Their psychosocial well-being is at stake. Many more children are affected due to a lack of essential services, such as health, schooling, and safe water supply.

Storm Daniel struck eastern Libya on 10 September and left widespread flooding and destruction in its wake across Derna, Albayda, Soussa, Al-Marj, Shahat, Taknis, Battah, Tolmeita, Bersis, Tokra and Al-Abyar.

Some of the displaced families are hosted in schools. UNICEF has been working with authorities and partners since the beginning of the tragedy to respond to the urgent needs of children and families in the affected areas.

“When disasters hit, children are always among the most vulnerable,” said Adele Khodr, UNICEF Regional Director in the Middle East and North Africa, who has just returned from a visit to Al Bayda and Derna. “I saw the devastating toll the floods have already taken on children and families. I met families grappling with a high psychological burden and I spoke to children in extreme distress, many not sleeping and unable to interact and play. The memory of what happened still haunts their dreams and their thoughts. Now is the time to focus on recovery, including support the reopening of schools, provide psychosocial support, rehabilitate primary healthcare facilities and restore water systems. The tragedy is not over, and we should not forget the children of Derna and Al Bayda.”

While the number of children among the casualties is not yet confirmed, UNICEF fears hundreds of children died in the disaster, given that children account for about 40 percent of the population.

Significant damage to health and education infrastructure means children once again risk further disruption to their learning and the outbreak of deadly diseases. In the hit region, out of 117 impacted schools, four were destroyed and 80 partially damaged.

Waterborne illnesses are a growing concern due to water supply issues, significant damage to water sources and sewer networks, and the risk of contamination of the groundwater. In Derna alone, 50 percent of water systems are estimated to have been damaged.

UNICEF has been actively supporting the children in eastern Libya since day two of the crisis. Sixty-five metric tonnes of relief supplies have been delivered to affected areas, including medical supplies for 50,000 people for three months, family hygiene kits for almost 17,000 people, 500 children’s winter clothing sets, 200 school-in-a-box kits and 32,000 water purification tablets. UNICEF has also dispatched mobile child protection and psychosocial support teams to help children cope with the emotional toll of the disaster.

“As we continue our life-saving response efforts, we also appeal to the authorities and donors to invest in long-term recovery that is equitable, resilient and child-focused,” added Khodr following her visit to the regions impacted by the floods.

UNICEF is revising its humanitarian response appeal of US$6.5 million to integrate initial recovery efforts with a focus on education, health and water. To date, UNICEF has received about 25 percent of these much-needed funds.