Tripoli, Libya, September 15, 2023 — The recent devastation caused by Storm Daniel in Libya has once again shed light on the dire situation faced by conflict-affected and climate-vulnerable communities. Libya, a nation already grappling with the impacts of more than a decade of conflict, has been pushed to the brink by the intensifying consequences of climate change. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) underscores that climate change has amplified extreme weather events, making them more frequent, prolonged, and severe, thus exacerbating the plight of vulnerable populations.
The convergence of climate-related disasters, protracted crisis, and economic instability in Libya creates a lethal cocktail that leaves people and communities grappling with minimal preparedness, inadequate infrastructure, and limited access to essential services. This triple burden of challenges makes it extraordinarily difficult for them to cope and recover.
Elie Abouaoun, the IRC’s Libya Country Director, said:
“Even before the devastating flooding, Libya was already grappling with the consequences of prolonged conflict and crisis, leaving approximately 800,000 people in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. The overwhelming amount of rain that fell, combined with ineffective early warning systems and preparedness measures and critical infrastructure in bad repair, deepened this humanitarian crisis.
“Although Libya is middle of the pack among climate-vulnerable countries, Storm Daniel shows that the worsening impacts of climate change can perfectly target weak points to cause great damage. And it is often the most vulnerable people - at risk of their homes, livelihoods, and health - who are on the frontlines of the climate crisis. With floods comes the risk of waterborne diseases, due to poor WASH conditions and the impact on health facilities.
“Climate-vulnerable, conflict-affected communities often find themselves marginalised in global climate action efforts. They receive a disproportionately low share of funding and must navigate delivery approaches that are heavily reliant on governments and formal institutions, which are often absent in conflict zones. The dominant focus of climate action remains emissions mitigation, while critical aspects such as adaptation, anticipatory measures, and building resilience are underemphasised. With tools and the technology to predict disasters like Storm Daniel - and therefore plan and enact an early response - anticipatory action may have lessened the damage of the storm.”
As we emerge from what is likely the hottest summer in recorded history, the upcoming United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) presents one of several crucial opportunities on the path to COP28. It is imperative that conflict-affected communities are brought to the forefront of climate action discussions. The IRC calls upon the global community to prioritise these communities, allocate adequate resources, and develop innovative strategies that can address their unique challenges.
The IRC is committed to supporting vulnerable communities in Libya and around the world as they grapple with the interconnected challenges of conflict and climate change. We stand ready to collaborate with governments, organisations, and individuals to ensure that no one is left behind in the fight against climate change.