ICRC sends 5,000 body bags, aid to flood-hit Libya, says 10,000 still missing


Sept 17, 2023. Posted by  Balkan Periscope - Hellas


The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has sent aid and 5,000 body bags to flood-stricken Libya, where 10,000 people are still missing in the wake of hurricane-strength Storm Daniel.

The storm slammed into Libya on September 10. At least 4,000 people are thought to have perished, but provisional figures vary enormously.

In a statement Saturday, the ICRC said it has sent thousands of body bags to Libya to “support with the dignified identification and burial of those who have tragically lost their lives.”

The ICRC forensic teams in Benghazi and Misrata are working with local authorities and the Libyan Red Crescent Society to care for the dead.

The aim is to ensure that each person is laid to rest in easily traceable and adequately documented individual graves within demarcated burial sites.

The ICRC said such forensic measures are part of the humanitarian organization’s work to support families with missing loved ones.

Vital supplies such as medicines, food, first aid kits, and household items are also on the way to help the thousands of families affected by this disaster.

Malak Buozayan from the ICRC in Misrata shared: “Our teams are loading medical supplies and body bags that will be taken to people affected by the floods in Derna. This storm has impacted people already affected by years of conflict in the country. As the death toll rises, people are desperately searching for missing loved ones.”

The ICRC is also assessing potential dangers from unexploded ordnance and abandoned munition stores in Derna and how to best protect residents, emergency responders, and authorities.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Libya said on Friday that over 38,640 individuals were displaced in the most affected areas in northeastern Libya due to storm Daniel.

“Over 5,000 are presumed dead, with a total of 3,922 deaths having been registered in hospitals, according to WHO sources,” IOM has said on its website.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross said Friday its emergency workers are continuing to sift through the mud and rubble of the flood disaster in the hope of finding survivors.

“The hope is there, is always there, to find people alive,” said Tamer Ramadan, the head of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent’s rescue effort in the North African country.

Calling the situation “catastrophic,” the United Nations launched an appeal for more than $71 million on Friday to respond to the “most urgent needs of 250,000 people targeted out of the 884,000 people estimated to be in need.”

Risk of disease

Aid groups on Saturday also warned of growing risk posed by the spread of disease that could compound the humanitarian crisis in Libya,

In Al-Bayda, 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of Derna, locals had already begun cleanup efforts, working to clear roads and homes of the mounds of mud left behind by the deluge.

Aid organisations like Islamic Relief and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) have meanwhile warned the upcoming period could see the spread of disease as well as grave difficulties in delivering aid to those most in need.

Islamic Relief warned of a "second humanitarian crisis" after the flood, pointing to the "growing risk of water-borne diseases and shortages of food, shelter and medicine".

"Thousands of people don't have anywhere to sleep and don't have food," said Salah Aboulgasem, the organisation's deputy director of partner development.

"In conditions like this, diseases can quickly spread as water systems are contaminated," he added. "The city smells like death. Almost everyone has lost someone they know."

MSF meanwhile said it was deploying teams to the east to assess water and sanitation.

"With this type of event we can really worry about water-related disease," said Manoelle Carton, MSF's medical coordinator in Derna, who described efforts to coordinate aid as "chaotic".

But the Red Cross and the World Health Organization pointed out that contrary to widespread belief, the bodies of victims of natural disasters rarely pose a health threat.