Unprecedented floods have struck Libya after Mediterranean Storm Daniel made landfall on 10 September 2023. The storm’s intense rainfall struck in the east of the country, leading to the collapse of two dams south of the city of Derna. Subsequent flooding swept away entire neighbourhoods.

The death toll stands at 3,000 and over 20,000 people are displaced across the country.

Humanitarian needs in the country are immense and protracted. Libyan leaders have called for the international community to help support affected communities.

The IRC is preparing a response to meet the pressing needs of flood-affected communities.

Learn more about the flooding in Libya and how you can help survivors.

How are floods impacting Libya?

Libya is reeling from unprecedented floods caused by Mediterranean Storm Daniel. The North African country is the latest to suffer from climate change-induced flooding.  

“We must remember that Libya is not just a country in crisis; it is also a gateway for people on the move to Europe,” explains IRC senior vice president for crisis response, recovery and development, Ciaran Donnelly.

“The IRC has been working tirelessly since 2016 to provide essential healthcare and protection to vulnerable Libyans, refugees and migrants affected by this protracted crisis.”

Due to years of conflict, the country lacks the capacity to respond to the crisis without support from the international community.

Two dams collapse in Derna, Libya

Two dams south of Derna collapsed under the pressure brought on by Mediterranean Storm Daniel. These collapses led to flooding that swept through Derna, which is home to 90,000 people. 

Prior to the landfall of Mediterranean Storm Daniel, engineers had issued warnings about the weakness of the dams. A 2022 report warned that one of the two dams could collapse, leaving citizens of Derna vulnerable to a flood.

Over 10,000 people are missing

The flooding that destroyed parts of Derna and other communities in Eastern Libya has claimed 3,000 lives. More than 10,000 more people are missing and 20,000 have been displaced.

The number of casualties is likely to rise as first responders continue to search for survivors.

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Critical infrastructure destroyed

The flooding in Libya has washed away roads and damaged other pieces of critical infrastructure. The recent flooding exacerbates the humanitarian situation of families who were already struggling with a breakdown of services in the area.

Many will face barriers in accessing life-saving medical services, shelter, food and water. Livelihoods have been destroyed and the education of children disrupted.

“The challenges are immense, with phone lines down and heavy destruction hampering rescue efforts,” warns Donnelly.

“This tragedy underscores the urgent need for international attention and assistance as well as for climate action.”

Climate change is increasing the severity of flooding

Climate change has worsened weather events - such as Mediterranean Storm Daniel and the storms and the floods in Libya - so that they are more frequent, longer, and more intense.

Libya is one of many countries struggling to respond to the impacts of climate change after years of conflict. 

“Globally, climate change has made these extreme weather events more frequent and intense, making it harder for communities to hope and rebuild, especially in conflict-affected regions,” adds Donnelly.

Learn more about climate change.

People look at the damage caused by freak floods in Derna, eastern Libya
People look at the damage caused by freak floods in Derna, eastern Libya
Photo: AFP via Getty Images

How is the IRC responding to the flooding in Libya?

The IRC has been working to support vulnerable populations in Libya since 2016 with vital healthcare and other services. We will scale up our services to help affected communities recover and rebuild from the unprecedented flooding in Libya.

“The IRC is conducting a joint needs assessment alongside other NGOs and we will be scaling up our services to support those affected by the floods,” explains Donnelly.

How can I help after the floods in Libya?

The IRC is conducting a joint needs assessment and will scale up services to support flood-affected communities. Please consider donating to the IRC to help fund our emergency response work in Libya and in more than 40 crisis-affected countries around the world.

Stay updated about the developing crisis in Libya and learn how the IRC has been providing services in the country since 2016.