Over 5,000 people killed by extreme flooding in Libya

  • The flooding caused by Storm Daniel has resulted in over 5,000 deaths and an estimated 34,000 missing persons.
  • The collapse of two dams has exacerbated the floods, causing catastrophic damage to entire neighborhoods.
  • The challenges are substantial, with communication lines down and extensive destruction impeding rescue efforts.
  • The IRC emphasizes the need for international attention and immediate climate action due to the compounded effects of climate change and years of conflict and instability.
Read our September 12 statement

Country facts

  • Population: 6.9 million
  • People in need of humanitarian assistance: 800,000, projected to rise to 1.5 million during 2022
  • Humanitarian Development Index rank: 105

IRC response

  • Started work: 2016

Libya crisis briefing

Libya is at a critical crossroads. Deep divisions continue within the country, as armed groups and forces vie for influence and power. Home to Africa’s longest Mediterranean coastline, Libya also remains the continent’s main departure point to Europe for migrants seeking safety and opportunity. Tens of thousands are intercepted and returned by the Libyan Coast Guard, many of whom face deplorable conditions in detention centers.

What caused the current crisis in Libya?

Libya is reeling from intense flooding caused by Mediterranean Storm Daniel, which made landfall in the country on September 10. The flooding has destroyed two dams and displaced more than 34,000 people, leaving them in critical need of shelter and basic services. More than 11,000 lives were lost in the flooding.

The flooding in Libya will exacerbate the ongoing crisis in the country, in which 800,000 people were already in need of humanitarian support due to protracted conflict and instability.

Libya has been engulfed in recurring violence since a civil war erupted in 2014. The civilian population has been severely impacted as basic public services —health care, education, electricity, banking— have degraded, and in some cases are completely absent. Meanwhile, despite years of crisis, refugees and migrants continue to make the journey to or through Libya.

What are the main humanitarian challenges in Libya?

Years of crisis have disrupted all facets of life: health care, public utilities, jobs, education, financial services and social safety nets. Now, intense flooding has swept away entire communities, damaging critical pieces of infrastructure and displacing more than 34,000 people.

Restoring primary health services is the most pressing need, with more than 800,000 people requiring immediate health assistance. Many health facilities across the country are either partially or completely non-functional due to critical shortages of health workers, skilled specialists, medicines and medical supplies. 

Due to years of conflict and insecurity, Libya lacks the capacity to respond to the flooding without support from the international community.

How does the IRC help in Libya?

The IRC’s mission is to help people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover and gain control of their future. 

Since 2016, the IRC has provided lifesaving health and protection services in Libya, as well as vital support to strengthen the country’s health system. In the wake of flooding caused by Storm Daniel, the IRC is scaling up services and preparing a response to meet the needs of impacted communities. 

The IRC is planning a response that would target the following key areas

  • Health services: The IRC is determining how to best meet local health needs. This includes the provision of medical supplies, equipment, medicine and logistical and technical support to medical facilities, including field hospitals and public health centers. In addition, the IRC’s mobile medical teams are preparing to support emergency medical screenings, treatments and referrals.
  • Protection services: The IRC recognizes the protection needs of survivors and is working to establish a response that delivers protection monitoring and individual protection assistance, critical psychosocial support, and dignity kits that contain hygiene and sanitary items, as well as other items explicitly tailored towards the local needs of women and girls.
  • Basic household items: The IRC is identifying pathways to deliver critical items including first aid kits and family support kits which include diapers, clothing and other essentials to support displaced families.

This emergency response expands on the IRC’s work in Libya. In addition to our flood-response, the IRC

  • Provides critical health care in hard-to-reach places, rehabilitates primary health clinics following years of neglect, and supports public health staff with training, medicines and supplies.
  • Protects Libyans, migrants and refugees with individual social work support, counseling and other psychosocial services, and safe spaces for women and children.
  • Provides lifesaving assistance to migrants and refugees who are disembarked in Libyan ports and arbitrarily detained in Libyan detention centers.
  • Promotes social cohesion and peacebuilding by providing safe spaces where young people in Libya can discuss common problems and by training youth in effective communication and negotiation skills and social media literacy.