Friday, September 22, 2023

Floods in Libya | Communications outage in Derna amid discontent

(Derna) Communications were cut on Tuesday in Derna and journalists were asked to leave this eastern Libyan city devastated by deadly floods, a day after a demonstration by residents demanding authorities be held accountable.

Posted at 15:17

The Internet and telephone network of the two Libyan operators has been out of service since Monday at 7 p.m. (Eastern time), a journalist who could be contacted after leaving the city told AFP.

In fact, local authorities asked most of the journalists to leave Derna and hand over the coverage authorizations they had been granted, according to the same source.

These restrictions come a day after a demonstration by residents of Derna who demand responsibilities from the authorities in the east of the country, responsible according to them for the catastrophe that left thousands dead or missing after the passage of storm Daniel on September 10 and the rupture of two dams upstream of the city.

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The outage was due to “a breakage of optical fibers in the town of Derna,” reported the national telecommunications company (Lptic) on Facebook.

According to her, this blackout that also affects other towns in eastern Libya “could be the result of a deliberate act of sabotage.”


Gathered in front of the city’s great mosque, hundreds of residents chanted slogans against the eastern authorities embodied by Parliament and its leader, Aguila Saleh.

“The people want the fall of Parliament”, “Eagle (Saleh) is the enemy of God”, or even “those who stole or betrayed must be hanged”, they chanted.

Several protesters burned the house of the city’s hated mayor, Abdulmonem al-Ghaithi, according to images widely circulated on social networks and by the Libyan media.

Hours after the demonstration, the head of the executive in eastern Libya, Osama Hamad, dissolved the municipal council of Derna, against which he ordered an investigation.

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According to politicians and analysts, the chaos in Libya has relegated to the background the maintenance of vital infrastructure, such as the Derna dams, whose collapse caused floods that left 3,351 dead, according to the latest provisional official report published on Tuesday afternoon. by the Minister of Health of the East, Othman Abdeljalil.

Mohamed Eljarh, spokesman for a government-formed aid committee in the east of the country, said 14 rescue teams were still working in Derna, including ten foreigners.

He denied rumors of an imminent evacuation of the city and said only the worst-affected areas had been “isolated.”

Plagued by divisions since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya is governed by two rival administrations: one in Tripoli (west), recognized by the UN and headed by Prime Minister Abdelhamid Dbeibah, the other in Tripoli (west), embodied by Parliament and affiliated with the camp of the powerful Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

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Haftar’s forces seized Derna in 2018, then a stronghold of radical Islamists and the only eastern city to escape his control. But the eastern authorities maintain relations of distrust with Derna, considered a city of protest since the time of Gaddafi.

“Punish the protesters”

The failure of two dams caused a tsunami-magnitude flood along the wadi that runs through Derna, a city of 100,000 inhabitants on the shores of the Mediterranean.

As rescuers continued working Tuesday in Derna to find the bodies of thousands of missing people, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the tragedy represented a “sad snapshot” of a world “swept away by the torrent of inequalities and inequalities”. injustices”, evoking the impact of a “compilation” of “plagues”, from climate change to years of conflict.

Floods In Libya | Communications Outage In Derna Amid Discontent


“Two years ago, there were already leaks in the large dam when it was only half full. We had warned the municipality and demanded reparations,” Abdelqader al-Omrani told AFP from his hospital bed in Benghazi, the large eastern city. Those responsible for negligence “have our deaths on their conscience,” he stated.

“Media blockade of #Derna (…) communications cut off since dawn. Don’t doubt it, this is not about health or safety, but about punishing the protesters in Derna,” Emadeddin Badi, Libya specialist at the Atlantic Council, said on X (ex-Twitter).

“Residents are now terrified of an imminent military crackdown, seen as collective punishment for yesterday’s demonstration and demands,” said Tarek Megrisi, Maghreb expert at the European Council on International Relations (ECFR), also in X.

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