Ambassador To Libya Sees Silver Lining In Floods

The US Ambassador to Libya said that last month’s deadly flooding that devastated the eastern coastal city of Derna has spurred new efforts to “unify the country’s institutions” after nearly a decade of division, the Associated Press reported.

Ambassador Richard Dorland said during an online press conference last Thursday that the deadly floods in Derna that killed thousands set the stage for the “development of an agreed, credible roadmap to elections.”

Mediterranean Storm Danial brought devastating rain and flooding to eastern Libya last month. Residential buildings in Derna were washed out to sea and as much as a third of the city’s infrastructure and housing were damaged when the rainwater overwhelmed two dams outside of the city on September 11.

Libyan officials and various aid organizations have estimated the death toll anywhere from over 4,000 to more than 11,000.

The devastation prompted a rare show of unity in a nation that has been divided between two rival governments since 2014.

Ambassador Dorland said to make elections in Libya happen, the two governments must agree on a single set of election laws and the formation of a single caretaker government to oversee voting.

He told reporters that he and US Africa commander Gen. Michael Langley had held several meetings with the country’s leading political figures following the flooding last month, including the head of the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army, General Khalifa Hiftar, whose forces are allied with the eastern government where Derna is located.

The ambassador also called for the two governments to form a unified mechanism that would allow them to jointly lead the reconstruction of Derna. This unified mechanism was first proposed last Monday by Abdoulaye Bathily, the UN’s Special Envoy for Libya.

After last month’s devastating floods, many within Libya and aboard called for an international investigation into possible neglect by the eastern government. The two dams that collapsed on September 11 had been neglected for decades despite repeated warnings that the dams were faulty.