How a flood exposed Libya’s broken state

The Real Story

29-09-2023 • 48 mins

Earlier this month two dams collapsed after torrential rain in eastern Libya. Whole neighbourhoods in the city of Derna were swept into the sea. More than 15,000 Libyans are dead or missing and the full death toll may never been known. Since the ousting of long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has been riven by power struggles and currently has two governments - a UN-recognised one based in Tripoli, and another in the country's east backed by General Khalifa Haftar. He has been calling the flooding a natural disaster but many Libyans disagree, saying the eastern government had neglected the dams despite prior warnings about their fragile condition. There have been protests in Derna against the leadership in the region but anger is also being expressed across the country. The anguish and anger across Libya have now developed into demands for an investigation. But who will conduct this investigation? Libya is rich in oil wealth but the country's infrastructure is crumbling and the elites are increasingly accused of rampant corruption. Could this be a reset moment for Libya?

Shaun Ley is joined by: Mary Fitzgerald - A writer and researcher focused on Libya and non-resident scholar for the Middle East Institute think tank. Tarek Megerisi - Senior policy fellow with the Middle East and North Africa programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations. Elham Saudi - Co-founder and Director of Lawyers for Justice in Libya, an NGO focusing on accountability, human rights and the rule of law in Libya.

Also in the programme: Othman Abdul Jalil - Minister for health for the Eastern Libyan government. Noura El-Jerbi - A Libyan journalist from Derna but now living in Turkey.

Produced by Ellen Otzen and Zak Brophy

Image: A view from the area as search and rescue efforts continuing in disaster zones after the floods in Derna. Credit: Hamza Al Ahmar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.