Rescue group warns of public health crisis in Libya’s flood areas

Beirut, Sept 18, (dpa/GNA) – The flood-hit areas in eastern Libya, are threatened by “a rapidly escalating public health crisis,” especially the badly hit port city of Derna, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) said in a warning issued on Monday.

“Recent floods have severely contaminated water sources with sewage, rendering them unsafe for consumption, and exposing communities to grave health risks,” the committee said in a press release.

A powerful storm dubbed Daniel, hit war-torn Libya on September 10, after earlier lashing Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey.

Two dams broke in the mountains above the port of Derna, washing away large areas of the city of around 100,000 people.

IRC said Derna has already recorded at least 55 children, who have become sick as a result of contaminated water.

“Contaminated water can lead to the spread of waterborne diseases, putting vulnerable populations, especially women and children, at increased risk,” it said.

“The situation in Derna and other flood-affected areas of Libya is dire,” Elie Abouaoan, IRC Libya Country Director was quoted as saying.

He stressed that “the access to clean water is a basic human right.”

Meanwhile, Libyan activists scattered in the areas worst hit by the disaster, called for the opening of new roads into the affected areas, to facilitate aid and ensure assistance.

The destruction of roads and bridges by the floods, has hampered the ability of aid agencies to enter affected cities, including Derna, Sousse, Shahat, Al Marj, Al Bayada and other rural communities.

Activists said on the messaging app WhatsApp, that the municipal council of Al Bayada had begun to start repairing some sandy roads, leading to remote areas affected by the floods.

They also said the council has arranged sending supplies by air, with the help of an Egyptian helicopter.