Cape Town - Disaster relief organisation Gift of the Givers (GOTG) says it will assist in Libya, after one of the worst deadly floods reported killed 11 000 people.
In a statement, GOTG founder and director Dr Imtiaz Sooliman said the organisation would send aid to victims via a cargo plane from South Africa and another airlift from the United Arab Emirates to the Libyan capital.
“Gift of the Givers has been receiving calls from the Libyan Presidency, its Disaster Centre, the Libyan Ambassador to SA, Libyan doctors in SA, and students and civilians from Tripoli and Derna, requesting highly qualified personnel to assist their distraught nation which has had an extremely difficult week brought on by Storm Daniel and the collapse of two dams which resulted in a ‘tsunami-like’ impact.
“Thousands of lives have been lost, with many thousands missing. Thousands are in need of healthcare, with decomposing bodies putting the population at high risk of water-borne diseases in an already fractured environment,” he said.
According to the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), the flooding caused by Storm Daniel in north-eastern Libya has resulted in the deaths of more than 11 300 people, and 10 100 people are missing in Derna alone. The numbers are expected to increase as search and rescue operations continue.
UN OCHA warned that the risk of exposure to landmines and Explosive Ordnance of War (ERW) from years of conflict was also on the increase, as flood waters had shifted landmines and ERW, including in to areas previously free of weapon contamination.
“Gift of the Givers responded instantly with an initial team of 70 on standby, including medical, search and rescue, and aquatic specialists with all the relevant equipment, communication systems, life locator and boats, supported by our partners, Gauteng and Limpopo EMS, CPUT, SARZA, and SAPS K9 Unit with dogs and handlers,” Sooliman said.
The organisation approached nine private companies to hire a plane, but these were unsuccessful.
“The high-risk situation in Libya with many armed groups, two separate governments (one in the East and another in the West) and the exorbitant flight insurance made it practically impossible to find a carrier. The one that agreed had a price tag of R16 million. The Libyan government offered to send a flight to fetch our teams. We refused for several reasons. They graciously acknowledged and accepted our concerns,” Sooliman said.
A private benefactor, Al Shifa Holdings, will send a cargo plane to collect the aid, and is arranging with OR Tambo International Airport to arrive on Wednesday.
GOTG is also in discussion with medical companies to airlift medical supplies from UAE to Tripoli.
Those wanting to assist can donate to Gift of the Givers, Standard Bank, Pietermaritzburg, Account number 052278611, Branch Code 057525, ref: Libya Floods.