Monday, September 18, 2023
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US announces ‘initial’ $1 million toward Libyan flood response

More than 11,000 deaths have been reported in the devastating flooding.

WASHINGTON (CN) — The United States is providing $1 million in aid to assist recovery efforts from massive flooding that’s killed more than 11,300 people in Libya.

The eastern portion of the country was hit with flooding from a Mediterranean storm on Sunday, but the damage was exacerbated when two dams in the mountains above the city of Derna collapsed, sending floodwaters through the city and sweeping away entire blocks.

Death tolls are expected to continue rising: Relief organization estimates suggest at least 10,100 people are still missing.

The United States Agency for International Development, an independent body that oversees tens of billions of dollars in foreign aid, announced Thursday it was making the funds available. 

The agency deployed its disaster response team to the region to lead the U.S.’s humanitarian response. It will identify and prioritize needs while coordinating with Libyan and international aid efforts.

“Homes, livelihoods, and entire communities have been washed away,” USAID Administrator Samantha Power said in a statement. “The humanitarian needs are significant, and the United States is committed to assisting in the relief and recovery effort.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the allocation is an “initial” response to the recovery efforts and State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said it addresses “the most immediate needs on the ground.”

Damage from massive flooding is seen in Derna, Libya, Wednesday, Sept.13, 2023. Search teams are combing streets, wrecked buildings, and even the sea to look for bodies in Derna, where the collapse of two dams unleashed a massive flash flood that killed thousands of people. (AP Photo/Yousef Murad)

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.

“The United States stands by the Libyan and Moroccan people and we are wishing them a speedy recovery to those injured and, certainly, sending our hope to all those who are missing loved ones,” Jean-Pierre said.

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.

However, despite a lack of national political unity, the two administrations are reportedly cooperating on the emergency response.

“In this difficult hour, the United States is sending emergency funds to relief organizations and coordinating with the Libyan authorities and the UN to provide additional support,” President Joe Biden said in a statement Tuesday. “We join the Libyan people in grieving the loss of too many lives cut short, and send our hope to all those missing loved ones.”

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Categories / Government, International

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