Drought and flooding in Libya – climate catastrophe forces people to flee

powódź w Libii

Libya, a country beset by conflict and political instability, now faces another challenge – the dramatic effects of climate change. In recent years, the area’s residents have been experiencing both a slow, prolonged drought and sudden, devastating floods that lead to massive population displacement. This climate catastrophe, which is a direct result of global warming, is creating a new and painful reality for thousands of people, forcing them to leave their possessions.

Climate disaster – flooding in Libya

In 2023. Libya has experienced one of the worst climate disasters in its history. The flash floods caused by Hurricane Daniel brought massive destruction to many cities causing significant property damage, and many people lost their lives. In an article published in September, “Flooding in Libya – thousands killed by Hurricane Daniel,” we detailed the tragic situation. On September 10, Hurricane Daniel hit the northeastern coast of Africa. The country has not experienced such a massive natural disaster before. The city of Derna, was particularly affected. Flooding literally washed away this sizable port city on the Mediterranean coast.

Climate catastrophe – consequences

ReliefWeb’s report on the flooding in Libya describes the catastrophic effects in the eastern part of the country, which are both a human and environmental tragedy. The report points to serious environmental problems in both the short and long term. The main nuisance has become an increased risk of infectious diseases due to damage to water and sanitation infrastructure and stagnant flood waters. Between September 14 and 18, 243 cases of diseases associated with standing or contaminated water, such as cholera, dysentery, and other intestinal infections, were reported. Stagnant storm water, especially when it mixes with contaminated water from damaged sewage systems, becomes a breeding ground for pathogens. People who come into contact with contaminated water are at risk of bacterial, viral and fungal infections.

Libya’s floods are also having a significant impact on agriculture and animal husbandry, leading to serious economic and environmental consequences. Flooded fields lose their productivity, which not only causes immediate damage to crops, but also leads to long-term problems such as soil erosion and nutrient loss. This in turn results in food shortages and economic losses for farmers. In addition, flood water often brings chemicals and other pollutants that can contaminate the soil, making it unsuitable for further cultivation.

At the same time, floods pose a threat to livestock farming, destroying pastures and water sources. This leads to problems with feeding and access to water for livestock. In addition, pollutants carried with flood waters can have long-term effects on biodiversity, which can disrupt local habitats and food chains.

The drama of climate refugees

Libya is home to nearly one million refugees. Many are from neighboring North African countries who have fled violence and humanitarian crises. Some have lost their farms due to the prolonged drought in their countries and have come to Libya in hopes of rebuilding them. Michela Pugliese, migration and asylum researcher at Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, pointed out that before the floods, Libya was home to more than 705,000 people. refugees and migrants from more than 44 different nationalities, including Chad, Egypt, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan.

However, as a result of the recent flood, thousands of residents lost their homes and had to look for a new place to live. These people, now known as climate refugees, face an uncertain future. They are struggling not only with the hardships of losing their homes, but also with legal uncertainty. The term “climate refugee” is not yet officially recognized in international law, creating additional challenges in accessing humanitarian assistance and legal protection. Among the 40,000. people displaced by the floods in Libya, many have moved to towns and villages further east, and a small number to the west of the country. It is estimated that by 2050. Some 1.2 billion people will experience internal or external displacement as a result of intensifying climate events.

Faced with this unprecedented situation, the international community has begun to mobilize resources and support for Libya. Humanitarian organizations and the UN are making efforts to provide necessary assistance, including shelter, food and medical care. However, logistical and political challenges are hampering effective aid to the Libyan people.

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