NEW YORK – More than 16,000 children are displaced in eastern Libya following Africa’s deadliest storm in recorded history, UNICEF said.
In a press release, the UNICEF said their psychosocial wellbeing is at stake. Many more children are affected due to lack of essential services, such as health, schooling and safe water supply.
Storm Daniel struck eastern Libya on 10 September and left widespread flooding and destruction in its wake across Derna, Albayda, Soussa, Al-Marj, Shahat, Taknis, Battah, Tolmeita, Bersis, Tokra and Al-Abyar.
Some of the displaced families are hosted in schools. UNICEF has been working with authorities and partners since the beginning of the tragedy to respond to the urgent needs of children and families in the affected areas.
“When disasters hit, children are always among the most vulnerable,” said Adele Khodr, UNICEF Regional Director in the Middle East and North Africa, who has just returned from a visit to Al Bayda and Derna.
“I saw the devastating toll the floods have already taken on children and families. I met families grappling with a high psychological burden and I spoke to children in extreme distress, many not sleeping and unable to interact and play. The memory of what happened still haunts their dreams and their thoughts. Now is the time to focus on recovery, including support the reopening of schools, provide psychosocial support, rehabilitate primary health care facilities and restore water systems. The tragedy is not over, and we should not forget the children of Derna and Al Bayda.”
While the number of children among the casualties is not yet confirmed, UNICEF fears hundreds of children died in the disaster, given that children account for about 40 per cent of the population.
Significant damage to health and education infrastructure means children once again risk further disruption to their learning and the outbreak of deadly diseases. In the hit region, out of 117 impacted schools, 4 were destroyed and 80 partially damaged.