Protests Erupt in Derna After Tragic Floods
The city of Derna in eastern Libya is in the throes of turmoil. It's been a week since devastating floods led to the loss of thousands of lives, and the people are demanding answers.
Overview of the Protests
Hundreds rallied against the authorities outside the iconic Sahaba Mosque, with its majestic golden dome standing tall, bearing witness to the rising tempers and raw emotions. As day turned to night, the people's wrath manifested when they set alight the residence of Derna's mayor at the time of the flood, Abdulmenam al-Ghaithi.
Key figures targeted in the protests
Their anger wasn't just directed at al-Ghaithi. Many pointed fingers at Aguila Saleh, the head of the eastern-based Libyan parliament. It was clear; they wanted accountability.
Causes and aftermath of the flood
This catastrophe wasn't just a stroke of bad luck. The flood ensued when two dams, situated in the hills surrounding Derna, failed during a mighty storm. The aftermath? A surge that annihilated whole neighborhoods.
Background on the Political Landscape
The political scene in Libya is, to put it mildly, complicated. With a country fragmented due to prolonged conflict, political alliances and affiliations aren't always transparent.
The role of Aguila Saleh
Saleh, while influential, tried deflecting responsibility, calling the flood an "unprecedented natural disaster." But was this just a way to sidestep accountability?
Eastern Libyan parallel government actions
In the political labyrinth that is eastern Libya, there's also the presence of a parallel government. This entity announced the dismissal of Derna's entire municipal council following the disaster, sparking even more questions.
Initial Reactions to the Flood
The magnitude of the calamity left many in shock. As people grappled with the immediate consequences, there were also loud calls for national unity, led by chants of, "Aguila, we don't want you! All Libyans are brothers!"
The immediate aftermath
The city's mourned for its lost residents, many of whom were still missing. Different authorities cited varying death tolls, but the World Health Organization confirmed a harrowing 3,922 deaths.
Calls for national unity
Derna's residents, amidst their grief, understood the necessity of a united front in these trying times. Their chants during protests emphasized the dire need for a politically unified Libya.
The citizens had a lot to say, and their emotions ranged from grief to anger.
Mansour, a student and protester, expressed his distress over the fallen dams. He called for an immediate investigation into their collapse, emphasizing the irreparable loss of thousands.
Taha Miftah's viewpoint
Taha, 39, felt that the governments failed to manage the crisis and held the parliament particularly accountable. His plea? An international investigation and subsequent reconstruction under global supervision.
Debates on Responsibility
Many officials played the blame game, but the public was not convinced.
Saleh, in an attempt to diminish the role of authorities, called the event a natural calamity. However, the residents demanded more.
External warnings & prior knowledge
In a twist of fate, there were earlier warnings about Derna's susceptibility to floods. An academic paper had detailed the city's vulnerability and the urgency to maintain its protective dams.
The Geopolitical Importance of Derna
Derna isn't just any city. Located in eastern Libya, it's overseen by military commander Khalifa Haftar and has its own parallel government, distinct from the internationally recognized administration in Tripoli.
Overview of Eastern Libya
Eastern Libya remains a hotspot of military and political activity. It's a region that's seen more than its share of conflict, power struggles, and geopolitical significance.
Derna's strategic importance
Positioned in eastern Libya, Derna holds a crucial role in the region's political chessboard, making the recent events even more pivotal in the broader landscape of Libyan politics.
Derna's recent tragedy is a reminder of the urgent need for political unity, infrastructure preparedness, and accountability. As the city grapples with its losses, the world watches, hoping for a better future for its resilient residents.
What led to the flood in Derna?
Two dams failed during a storm, leading to the devastating flood.
Who are the major political figures in eastern Libya?
Aguila Saleh and military commander Khalifa Haftar are two of the significant figures.
How many people have been confirmed dead due to the flood?
The World Health Organization confirmed a death toll of 3,922.
Were there prior warnings about Derna's vulnerability to floods?
Yes, an academic paper had detailed the city's susceptibility to such disasters.
What's the significance of the Sahaba Mosque in the protests?
The Sahaba Mosque, with its iconic golden dome, served as the central location for the protests.