Libya: Libya Floods – 'Tragedy Is Not Over' Warns UNICEF

More than 16,000 children are displaced in eastern Libya following Africa’s deadliest storm in recorded history the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned on Thursday, highlighting the urgent need for psychosocial care.

UNICEF stated that many more children are affected due to lack of essential services, such as health, schooling and safe water supply.

“When disasters hit, children are always among the most vulnerable,” said Adele Khodr, UNICEF’s Regional Director, who has just returned from a visit to Al Bayda and Derna.

Catastrophic flooding

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.

Torrential rainfall and the collapse of two dams flooded the coastal city, sweeping entire neighborhoods into the Mediterranean Sea.

Close to 4,000 died in the floods and 9,000 more are still unaccounted for, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

While the missing are presumed dead, their bodies still trapped under debris or in the sea, many still hope their loved ones could still be alive. The deadly flooding has forced schools to host some displaced families.

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.

Haunted day and night

“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”, Ms. Khodr said.

“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 health care facilities and restore water systems. The tragedy is not over, and we should not forget the children of Derna and Al Bayda,”