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UN: Derna Faces Threats of Disease Outbreaks

FILE — A man sits by the graves of flash-flood victims in Derna, Libya, Sept. 15, 2023.

DERNA — United Nations agencies warned Monday that Libya’s flood-stricken city of Derna, where thousands were killed a week ago, faces the threat of disease outbreaks that could bring a “second devastating crisis.”

U.N. agencies said the massive flash floods that struck Libya on Sept. 10 left over 30,000 residents of Derna traumatized, homeless and in need of clean water, food and basic supplies.

Rapidly rising waters burst two upstream river dams in the flood-stricken city, sending a late-night tidal wave crashing through the center of the coastal city and swept entire residential blocks into the Mediterranean.

Libyan authorities, local agencies and the World Health Organization, WHO, expressed concern "about the risk of disease outbreak, particularly from contaminated water and the lack of sanitation."

In a statement released Monday the U.N. Support Mission in Libya, UNSMIL, said it has sent nine teams in the North African nation to deliver aid and support those affected by the floods.

"The team continues to work to prevent diseases from taking hold and causing a second devastating crisis in the area," read the UNSMIL’s statement.

Other U.N. agencies, among them, UNICEF, UNHCR and WFP have been working in and around Derna for the past few days to help survivors.

UNSMIL said UNICEF teams delivered “medical kits to primary care services to support 15,000 people for three months,” while the UNHCR distributed supplies such as blankets, tarpaulins and kitchen equipment to 6,200 displaced families in the flood-stricken city and Benghazi.

Last week, the U.N. launched an aid appeal for more than $71 million for the emergency response in Derna and other parts of eastern Libya.