WHO sends body bags and emergency surgery kits to Libya

Body bags and emergency surgery kits arrive in Libya

Body bags have arrived in Libya donated by the World Health Organisation, after it urged the government to cease mass burials.

Yesterday, the WHO called for better-managed burials in well-demarcated and documented individual graves to prevent long-lasting mental distress for family members.

A total of 29 metric tonnes of health supplies arrived today, including medicines and emergency surgery supplies.

The aid could reach up to 250,000 people, according to the WHO, as the country struggles to operate its short-stocked health facilities.

“This is a disaster of epic proportions,” said Dr Ahmed Zouiten, WHO representative in Libya. 

“We are saddened by the unspeakable loss of thousands of souls. 

“Our thoughts are with the families who have lost loved ones, as well as with all of the affected communities.”

This is the second delivery of aid by the WHO, with another 29 tonnes released from existing contingency stocks in the country.

Analysis: Remember Derna – it may become a byword for climate injustice

By Tom Clarke, science and technology editor (Sky News) 

On the face of it there is a clear explanation for the tragedy in Derna.

Two dams across the river that runs through the city were too old and too weak to cope with an unusually heavy rainstorm.

But there’s another story written in the stinking channels of mud that carved through Derna’s high-rises and low-lying neighbourhoods:  That vulnerable places and their people will suffer the most through our failure to recognise and respond to the risks of a rapidly warming climate.

That’s not to say climate change caused Derna to flood. In that same way that it didn’t cause wildfires this summer.

But for both though, it helped set the stage and fate decided the play.

Because there were of course other, very human factors that contributed to the tragedy.

The lack of flood alerts, for example. Then a pointless, and in retrospect possibly fatal, curfew the night the dam burst.

This spring, the IPCC – the UN panel of international climate scientists – published its sixth synthesis report on climate change.

It found that between 2010 and 2020, human mortality from floods, droughts and storms was 15 times greater in highly vulnerable regions – that’s those with fragile governments and infrastructure. 

It went on to predict with “very high confidence” that those risks will increase with every increment of warming.

Derna has effectively become a case study for their next report.

Climate models predict Mediterranean cyclones will become less frequent as the climate warms. However, they are expected to become more intense.

Whatever is built to replace Derna’s dams may weather fewer floods like this one in the future – but they will have to be built strong and high enough to deal with ones more extreme than we’ve just witnessed.

A challenge for a country left chaotic and impoverished by conflict.