Thousands of residents of a northeastern Libya coastal city ravaged by flooding staged a protest on Monday to demand the removal of the country’s eastern-based parliament and rail against what they say is a sluggish official response to the devastation.
(Bloomberg) — Thousands of residents of a northeastern Libya coastal city ravaged by flooding staged a protest on Monday to demand the removal of the country’s eastern-based parliament and rail against what they say is a sluggish official response to the devastation.
The tension in Derna, about 290 kilometers (180 miles) east of Benghazi, came as the United Nations sharply revised down a death toll from the aftermath of Mediterranean storm Daniel and ensuing flooding to around 4,000 from an earlier figure of 11,300. Thousands more remain missing, with many feared to have been swept out to sea by the roaring floodwaters.
“There is no god but God and Aguila is the enemy of God,” the protesters chanted, according to footage aired by Libya Ahrar television. They were referring to Aguila Saleh, speaker of the parliament. The demonstrators also protested against Derna’s mayor.
Read More: Libyan Flood Toll Tops 11,300 Amid Recovery and Recrimination
An OPEC member that sits atop Africa’s largest proven reserves of crude oil, Libya is governed by rival administrations in the east and the west — a rift born from fighting and chaos that ensued after the 2011 ouster of leader Moammar Al Qaddafi.
A key complaint is that the eastern parliament failed to convene until three days after the flooding. Survivors, volunteers, militia forces and international rescue workers meanwhile struggled to take stock of the damage after the waters effectively wiped out, according to Libyan officials, at least a quarter of the city of 90,000.
The sharply conflicting tallies of those killed by flooding that came after two dams burst have become a source of anger in Derna and elsewhere in the east. Many are bemoaning what they say is an uncoordinated response by officials.
Libyan officials in the east have pledged at least 10 billion dinars ($2.1 billon) to help Derna and other storm-hit cities recover. But the political division in the country has the potential to undercut a unified response as much as it has been responsible for the dearth of investments to repair the country’s aging infrastructure over the past decade.
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.