Libya – urgent global solidarity is needed


Libya needs global solidarity after its devastating and deadly floods, Pope Francis says.

There’s a desperate search for thousands of people missing after a powerful storm burst dams near the Mediterranean city of Derna on 10 September.

That event unleashed a torrent of water that devastated at least a quarter of Derna’s buildings. Buildings along with their residents were washed away.

Many people are missing. Many are believed to have been swept out to sea.

As corpses continue to be washed ashore, catastrophic flooding continues.

Confusion and devastation

While initial reports estimated about 6,000 people died in the 10 September event, subsequent reports speak of at least 11,300 deaths and 10,100 missing people.

However, the UN says revised numbers are somewhat lower.

The UN says at least 3,958 people have died, citing UN World Health Organisation (WHO) figures. A further 9,000 or more people are still missing.

In addition, the UN says as at 17 September over 40,000 people were displaced, according to data from the International Organisation for Migration.

The figures are expected to change as search-and-rescue efforts continue to look for survivors.

As telecommunications have been interrupted, roads destroyed and electricity towers toppled, rescue efforts are being hampered however, causing further hardship for survivors.

Prayer and practical help

Pope Francis has voiced his “heartfelt spiritual closeness” to the people of Libya through communication with the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai.

He says he hopes others will join him in praying for the injured, those anxious for loved ones, emergency workers and “for the souls of the deceased and all who mourn their loss.”

The Holy Father invoked divine blessings of consolation, strength and perseverance upon all affected by the tragedy.

Calling for global solidarity to help Libya’s suffering people, he said “May we not fail in our solidarity with these brothers and sisters, tried by such a devastating calamity.”

What practical global solidarity might include

The International Rescue Committee says it is “gravely concerned about the protection needs of those caught up in this tragedy, especially thousands of women and children who have to leave their homes in search of safety.”

It is calling for urgent emergency shelters and psycho-social support.

Medical services that need support have been impacted.

There are displaced patients and an overwhelming demand for medical help. There are damaged ambulances that need repairing. There are physical access challenges and logistical support needs.

There are fears about waterborne diseases.

Derna lacks clean drinking water. Medical supplies are lacking. The city’s hospital is reportedly overwhelmed with the number of dead.


Caritas – the Catholic Relief Agency – is helping assess the damage and getting help to the most needy,” says Caritas’s Australia’s Humanitarian Emergencies Associate Director.

“Libya has been in a state of civil war since 2011, which has led to a significant loss of life and has forced many people to flee from their homes and become displaced.

“Despite a ceasefire since 2020, there is still political instability as well as damage and disruption to infrastructure,” a Caritas statement says.


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