United Nations Revises Toll from Libya Floods To 3958, Over 9000 Injured

18 September, 2023 | Anupam Shrivastava

Libya World

This discrepancy between the UN's initial report on Libya and the subsequent adjustments has raised questions about the accuracy of such figures in the aftermath of large-scale disasters.

The United Nations has made a significant revision to the death toll resulting from the devastating floods that swept through Libya. The new figure stands at 3,958 lives lost, a substantial reduction from the previously reported number of 11,300, as indicated by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). This development was recently reported by CNN.

This adjustment in the death toll comes as a result of updated information from the World Health Organization (WHO), as provided in the revised report released on a Sunday morning by OCHA. Additionally, the report notes that more than 9,000 individuals remain unaccounted for, further highlighting the scale of the tragedy and the challenges faced in determining the full extent of the disaster.

The earlier OCHA report had cited figures from the Libyan Red Crescent, suggesting that 11,300 lives were lost due to the catastrophic flooding in Derna. However, Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, clarified to CNN that the UN now relies on figures that have been meticulously verified by WHO.

This discrepancy between the UN’s initial report on Libya and the subsequent adjustments has raised questions about the accuracy of such figures in the aftermath of large-scale disasters. Haq explained that it is not uncommon for the UN to revise numbers as part of standard procedures, emphasizing the importance of cross-checking information from various sources to arrive at the most accurate count of casualties.

Haq also underscored the dynamic nature of death toll figures, emphasizing that they can change as more information becomes available and as search and rescue operations progress. In the affected areas, particularly along Derna’s seafront, rescue teams have been working tirelessly to clear debris and obstacles, which is critical for facilitating ongoing relief efforts. Helicopters have been deployed to scan the sea for bodies, and heavy machinery has been put to use to remove barriers that have hindered search and rescue operations.

Derna, a city with an estimated population of at least 120,000, bore the brunt of the catastrophe as entire districts were either swept away or buried in brown mud. This calamity unfolded after two dams located south of the city ruptured, releasing torrents of floodwater down a riverbed that is typically dry.

Recognizing the gravity of the situation, the UN’s humanitarian affairs office has launched an appeal for $71 million to provide vital assistance to those affected by the disaster. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has sprung into action by delivering emergency aid to nearly 250,000 people in eastern Libya. This aid includes crucial supplies such as essential medicines, surgical equipment, and body bags.

In addition to these international efforts, Saudi Arabia and Russia have provided aid flights, including mobile hospitals, to help address the immediate medical needs of the affected population. Furthermore, an Italian naval ship arrived in Derna laden with supplies like tents, blankets, water pumps, and tractors to support recovery and rebuilding efforts.

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