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US announces $11 million in aid for Libya flood recovery

The money builds off last week’s initial announcement of $1 million, as hundreds of thousands require assistance throughout the country.

WASHINGTON (CN) — The United States is providing an additional $11 million in aid to assist recovery efforts for massive deadly flooding in Libya.

President Joe Biden announced the funds Monday, along with plans to disburse the money through the U.S. Agency for International Development, an independent body that oversees tens of billions of dollars in foreign aid annually.

“The Department of State and USAID will help coordinate the delivery of this aid to the people who need it most, joining the concerted efforts of nations and non-profits around the world providing critical support such as water, food, shelter, and medical assistance,” Biden said in a statement.

The eastern portion of the North African country was hit with flooding from a Mediterranean storm last week, which caused two dams in the mountains above the city of Derna to collapse, sending floodwaters through the city and sweeping away entire blocks.

More than 11,300 deaths have been reported so far, but relief organizations have estimated another 10,000 people are missing. The floodwaters displaced at least 40,000 people and the United Nations estimates that 900,000 need some sort of assistance.

The U.S. funding supplements U.N. efforts to respond to the disaster, officials said. It will support health services, hygiene supplies, shelter support, safe drinking water, food, cash assistance and other aid measures.

Last week, USAID announced $1 million in aid, after the agency deployed its disaster response team to the region to lead the U.S.’s humanitarian response. 

The floods were the second part of a two-punch disaster for North Africa, coming just days after thousands were killed by an earthquake in Morocco.

Libya, a country of about 6.9 million people that received $49 million in U.S. aid in fiscal 2022, has struggled to form a strong central government after a Western-backed intervention led to the overthrow and death of dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. A civil war subsequently broke out, which resulted in the infamous 2012 attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi. 

Although the factions agreed to a ceasefire in 2020, Libya still faces ongoing civil conflict and strife exemplified by the existence of two rival governments. The internationally recognized Government of National Unity is based in Tripoli in the west, while a parallel administration is based in the east.

In his statement Monday Biden did not shy away from the quagmire that is the current state of Libyan politics.

“[A]s the United States continues to stand with the Libyan people during this difficult hour,” he said, “we remain committed to supporting a political path toward a unified, freely and fairly elected government in Libya that can effectively respond to its people’s needs.”

Monday’s announcement came as Biden and world leaders gathered in New York this week for the annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, an event some foreign policy analysts worry could focus too much on the war in Ukraine as growing humanitarian needs spread throughout less developed regions of the world.

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Categories / Government, International

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