It’s been more than a week since what was described as violent and brutal flooding hit northeastern Libya, claiming the lives of thousands of people, including three Libyan Red Crescent volunteers who lost their lives while trying to save others. The deepest condolences of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world go to their loved ones. Other Red Crescent volunteers are missing, and several were injured.
Hundreds of Libyan Red Crescent volunteers are supporting relief efforts in the affected region on the Mediterranean coast. Impacted towns and villages include Derna, Benghazi, Tobruk, Toukra, Talmeitha, Almarj, Taknes, al-Owailia, Bayada, Albayda, Shahhat and Sousa. Almost 50,000 people have been displaced.
The city of Derna, with a population of about 100,000 people, was the hardest hit. Almost a quarter of the city was washed away. Reports indicate entire neighborhoods are destroyed and hospitals are not operational. Roadways are severely damaged, and communications and power lines are down. There is a severe need for drinking water.
The collapse of two dams in Derna made the situation worse. The flow of water was so strong it took entire high-rise buildings off their foundations and swept them to the sea. Some of the buildings were 11 floors high. Relief workers are now able to get into Derna, but access is difficult with one lane open for both incoming and outgoing traffic.
As the search for the missing slows down, Libyan Red Crescent teams are focused on helping survivors, offering shelter in two schools, helping re-unite families, providing psychological support and distributing aid. ICRC teams are in Libya to assist in the search and rescue operation and provide medicine, food, and non-food items to families affected by the floods.
Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are sending aid and people to help in Libya. These include the Turkish, Egyptian, United Arab Emirates, Iran and Qatar Red Crescent Societies and the Italian Red Cross. In addition, both the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are supporting the work of the Libyan Red Crescent.
The IFRC launched an appeal for 10 million Swiss francs to support the Libyan Red Crescent relief efforts. According to the IFRC, the main needs are emergency shelter kits, psychosocial support for the survivors, immediate medical assistance, access to clean water and proper sanitation facilities, immediate supplies of ready-to-eat meals and non-food items such as hygiene kits, cooking utensils, clothing, even flashlights, to meet people’s basic needs and restore a sense of normalcy.
Libya has endured years of ongoing conflict. It has no unified government, but two rival administrations that are locked in a political standoff following a civil war that began in 2014. The situation complicates rescue missions and international aid delivery. Crucially, the Libyan Red Crescent is politically neutral and has access and acceptance across the country.
Can I Volunteer or Donate Goods?
In countries around the world, Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations have their own staff and volunteers who are trained to respond to large-scale disaster operations. The American Red Cross sends highly specialized and experienced professionals with technical skills and expertise abroad only after the Red Cross or Red Crescent team requests assistance. Those not already on the Red Cross’s international disaster roster will not have the opportunity to deploy at this time. We encourage you to connect with your local Red Cross chapter for future opportunities or to visit redcross.org/volunteer for more information.
While we are grateful for the outpouring of support, it’s important to know that neither the American Red Cross nor our global Red Cross partners are accepting the donation of in-kind goods such as food, clothing, blankets, or toys at this time. These items can be difficult to manage on the ground and divert resources from our mission. Other charitable organizations are better suited to manage such donations.
At this time, the American Red Cross is not shipping blood products to Libya. The American Red Cross does not ship blood products outside the U.S. without a specific request from the U.S. Department of State, from the United Nations, or unless we have a request from affected Red Cross or Red Crescent societies abroad.
How can I learn more about the global Red Cross response?
More information about the global response can be found here.
How to Find a Missing Loved One
There is currently no U.S. Embassy in Libya. Questions may be addressed to the Libya External Office located in Tunis or the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Tunis. Telephone: (216) 71-107-000, press 0 and ask for the Libya Office consular officer. You can also email TunisACS@state.gov. Inquiries regarding U.S. citizens in Libya may also be directed to the Department of State’s Office of Overseas Citizens Services. Callers in the U.S. and Canada may dial toll free ─ 1-888-407-4747. Callers outside the U.S. and Canada may call 1-202-501-4444.