After Two Months Flood in Libya’s Derna, Mental Pain Claims Lives

People look for survivors in Derna, on September 13, 2023. Homes and all sense of place were destroyed in the flood [Yousef Murad/AP Photo]

Derna, Libya – About a month after floods crushed Libya’s eastern city of Derna, Dr Khaled al-Shaari was found by his neighbors. He had ended his own life close to his flood-assaulted home.

His demise was not a disconnected occasion. Soon after the disaster, 25 other Derna inhabitants have passed on by self destruction.

Al-Shaari, 38, had been experiencing mental injury subsequent to losing the two his family and home after the two dams in Derna broke on September 10, made sense of his neighbor, Mohammed Rifaeira.

“He was unable to bear the shock he confronted and found no psychological help even a month after the fiasco,” Rifaei told Al Jazeera. Different neighbors had seen al-Shaari sitting by the entryway of his destroyed home, hanging tight for news about family members cleared away by the floods.

Soldiers distributing aid in Derna on Wednesday. Experts and residents say the city was deliberately neglected over the years for its rebellious stance against authority.Credit.
Abu Bakr Al-Soussi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

When a bustling metropolitan center point, Derna and its roads presently convey the scars of the mind-boggling harm that 30 million cubic meters of hurrying water can cause: structures disintegrated, windows broke, walls stained.

Homes and all feeling of spot were annihilated in the flood, which guaranteed upwards of 11,300 lives. Sloppy hand shaped impressions of the salvage and help laborers are as yet noticeable on uncovered walls.

The harm reaches out past designs. The essences of the survivors, scratched with injury, are unpleasant demonstrations of the frightfulness of what they encountered. Also, help is elusive.

‘I’m suffocating consistently’

Before the flood, 31-year-old Layla Eljerbi was a workmanship educator. She lived with her family in a little condo, its walls beautified with her and her understudies’ fine art, near the core of the city.

Hamdi Cheikh, who survived the deadly storm that hit Libya, speaks to journalists in Derna, Libya September 21, 2023.
Hamdi Cheikh, who survived the deadly storm that hit Libya, speaks to journalists in Derna, Libya September 21, 2023 [Zohra Bensemra/Reuters]

Her level was among quick to be hit. ” Inside minutes, it resembled as long as I can remember washed away before me. The craftsmanships, the photos, the recollections – all gone,” she reviewed. Her battle proceeds.

“Every night is a fight with rest; every raindrop is an indication of the downpour that washed away my life and craftsmanship. Despite the fact that I got away from the flood, I’m suffocating consistently to me,” Layla said.

Since the flood, Layla has had intense nervousness. Her hands shudder when the sky obscures and she tries not to pass by streams or any huge stretch of water.

Her finding of post-awful pressure problem (PTSD) is one shared by endless other people who were affected by the horrendous floods. In any case, with emotional wellness administrations hard to come by, Layla has battled to track down help.

She goes to bunch treatment meetings coordinated by volunteers however lets it be known is a long ways from the specific consideration she wants. In Derna, clinical centers center more around actual wounds and illnesses, as opposed to emotional wellness.

“The public authority should really try to understand that the calamity is nowhere near finished. In numerous ways, it’s simply starting,” Layla said.

As winter draws near, the potential for additional downpours and floods prompts dread and tension.

Absence of Mental Help Administrations

Abdulaziz al-Huni is an individual from the Libyan Goodness Group which offers free mental help to flood survivors. He owns up to feeling overpowered.

Aisha, 51, who said she lost five family members when the deadly storm hit her city, reacts as she walks past destroyed houses, in Derna, Libya September 17, 2023. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
Aisha, 51, who said she lost five family members when the deadly storm hit her city, reacts as she walks past destroyed houses, in Derna, Libya September 17, 2023. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

“We’re putting forth a valiant effort, yet the size of the need is overpowering and assets are slender,” he said.

There are almost 600 uprooted families currently living in the eastern city of Tobruk, around 67km (42 miles) toward the southeast. Around 285 families are in the capital, Tripoli, which is 1345km (836 miles) away. These families all depend upon help given by neighborhood vendors.

The emotional well-being of dislodged individuals is one of the fundamental variables ignored by experts following any emergency, specialists say. Coordinating into new areas can be socially and mentally testing. This can compound existing injury and lead to psychological instability or even self destruction.

Youngsters’ psychological well-being has additionally been impacted. Dr Marwa al-Saadawi, a specialist at Tobruk Emergency clinic, reviews a small kid who came to the medical clinic attempting to relax. There was not an obvious reason for his side effects, she made sense of, “however he referenced awakening from a fantasy where he was suffocating, causing him trouble”.

There is a “tremendous requirement for mental treatment … however we are in an emergency and are focusing on those generally impacted,” al-Saadawi recognizes.

“In some cases, [travelling to] impacted individuals is a test, however volunteer groups are giving a valiant effort,” she said. In any case, regardless of how hard her groups work, they can’t address the mind-boggling need for help.


A damaged mosque earlier this week in Derna. The city was the site of Libya’s first theater and was known for its cultural centers, cafes for discussions and debate, and bookshops.Credit.

With Libya fragmented between two opponent parliaments, financing for Derna’s recreation is similarly cracked.

The eastern Place of Delegates has designated 10 billion dinars ($2bn), and the western Legislature of Public Solidarity has made a more modest commitment. Be that as it may, how these assets will be dispensed and used has not been affirmed.

Inhabitants who have gotten back to a crushed Derna say their states have deserted them; weeks after the flood, conditions in the space are as yet desperate.

Get-togethers writer Iman al-Sweihli, who has been covering the aftermath from the floods, said neither one of the states has handled the issue and called for them to “address it valiantly” before it transforms into a “debacle”.

A few endeavors have been made to impart the states of the dislodged families to the two legislatures, made sense of Faraj Abu al-Khattabiya, the city hall leader of Tobruk, via telephone. In any case, there has been no reaction to calls for help.

Large numbers of the uprooted families experience the ill effects of intense uneasiness, dread and a powerlessness to deal with the injury they encountered, as indicated by al-Khattabiya.

In the interim, Layla anticipates the day when she can start to revamp her life. Up to that point, she and others like her stay living tokens of an emergency that shows no closure.

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