Providing shelter, food, and medical supplies to people in Libya and Morocco who survived two massive lethal natural disasters is the top priority, the UN’s humanitarian affairs chief said Friday.
Speaking at a UN press conference about the earthquake that struck Morocco on Sept. 8 and devastating floods in Libya on Sept. 10, claiming thousands of lives, Martin Griffiths of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said according to “early figures,” nearly 3,000 people are dead in Morocco.
“I’m sure it’s an under evaluation, but it’s a carefully done one by the authorities,” said Griffiths.
“In Libya, a completely different catastrophe, I’ve heard that there are speculations of up to 20,000, maybe dead. I believe 4,000 deaths are registered at the moment.”
Griffiths said access to Derna, the Libyan city particularly impacted by the flooding, is still difficult, where the consequences are “unimaginable.”
“The attention is rightly on finding survivors and also finding those who have not survived,” said Griffith.
“And then the next phase is to provide aid to those survivors – shelter, food, medical supplies.”
In Derna, there’s a compounded problem with dams breaking, and storms raging from the sea.
“This is a tragedy in which climate and capacity have collided to cause this terrible, terrible tragedy.”
Griffiths said the UN humanitarian office had sent a disaster coordination team of 15 people to Libya who had been redeployed from Morocco.
International Red Cross and Red Crescent officials and the UN are also dealing with the grisly business of giving a dignified burial to the thousands killed in the two disasters.
“Amid the devastating loss of life due to disasters and conflict, there is often unfounded fear and misunderstanding concerning the dead. It is therefore important that communities have the tools and information they need to manage dead bodies safely and with dignity,” said the Red Cross and the UN.
“This is in part to help survivors along the path to recovery,” the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday.