Thousands of people are feared dead after a powerful storm triggered devastating floods in Libya.
Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar has directed immediate aid to areas affected by severe flooding in eastern Libya, in a swift response to the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in the North African country.
The urgent relief from Qatar comes as eastern Libya faces unprecedented devastation. Authorities have reported a death toll exceeding 2,000 in the city of Derna, with an estimated 5,000-6,000 people still missing.
Dams above Derna had collapsed “sweeping whole neighbourhoods with their residents into the sea,” Ahmed Mismari, spokesperson for the Libyan National Army (LNA) which controls eastern Libya, announced in a televised news conference.
Mismari also disclosed that seven LNA members had died in the flood, according to Reuters.
Libya remains politically fragmented between the eastern and western regions, exacerbating public service failures since the 2011 uprising.
The internationally recognised government in Tripoli, led by a three-person Presidential Council, appealed to the international community urging “brotherly and friendly countries and international organisations to provide assistance”.
Osama Hamad, the head of a parallel eastern-based administration, echoed the dire statistics in a local television interview.
“The missing are in the thousands, and the dead exceed 2,000,” said Hamad. “Entire neighbourhoods in Derna have disappeared, along with their residents … swept away by water.”
The flood, attributed to Storm Daniel which previously battered Greece, also ravaged other coastal settlements including Libya’s second-largest city, Benghazi.
Footage from Almostkbal TV showed people stranded atop their vehicles calling for help, with cars being swept away by floodwaters.
This directive by the Amir follows a high-stakes diplomatic meeting between the Qatari Amir and Libya’s Interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, held in Doha on Sunday.
Both nations pledged commitment to Libyan unity, stability, and respect for its sovereignty amid the North African country’s internal chaos.
The Doha meeting, attended by high-ranking officials such as Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, served as a crucial diplomatic milestone. From the Libyan delegation, attendees included Minister of State for Prime Minister and Council of Ministers Affairs, Adel Gomaa, and Political and Security Advisor to the Prime Minister, Ibrahim Dabaiba.
The discussions highlight the critical role that regional players like Qatar could have in stabilising the fraught situation in Libya.