The devastating floods in Derna, Libya, resulted in thousands of deaths and missing persons, affecting a city already marred by civil war, corruption, and neglect. Experts and survivors say the disaster wasn’t merely a natural calamity but exacerbated by years of institutional decay. Protests have erupted against local authorities, intensifying public anger over a disaster that many believe could have been mitigated. The floods serve as a grim testament to the state of a fractured nation grappling with deteriorating infrastructure and governance challenges.
- Two upstream dams, Abu Mansour and Derna, that were meant to protect the city’s nearly 90,000 residents, failed to contain the floodwaters, leading to widespread devastation.
- A research paper published last year had already warned of a high potential for flood risk in Derna, citing a lack of dam maintenance and previous incidents, but little to no preventive action was taken by the authorities.
- Fury against local officials has led to protests and the torching of Derna’s ousted mayor’s home. Citizens are calling for accountability from their leaders, accusing them of negligence and corruption.
- The disaster highlights the fragmented state of Libya’s disaster management and response mechanisms. Analysts say this is a symptom of deeper governance issues, including corruption and a lack of coordinated public infrastructure planning.
- The catastrophe is likely to have long-term implications for a city and country already plagued by civil strife and institutional breakdown, further complicating international aid and recovery efforts.