EditorialTHEWILL Editorial: Lessons From Libyan, Moroccan Disasters

THEWILL Editorial: Lessons From Libyan, Moroccan Disasters


September 17, (THEWILL) – This is not the best of times for Libya. The troubled North African country under the leadership of two rival authorities is practically at the mercy of a deadly storm. The Libyan floods came as Morocco, another North African country, was grappling with the shock of a massive earthquake that rocked parts of the country, burying thousands of people under the rubble.

On Sunday, September 10, deadly flash floods swept through Libya, wreaking untold hardship across the country. In the end, Storm Daniel sent no fewer than 6,000 people to their untimely death, with several thousands more still missing. The catastrophe was massive. The rampaging flood waters, which came with the strength of a hurricane, destroyed the city of Derma, following the collapse of two upstream dams and submerged the entire seaside town of Sousse.

Now, the United Nations is looking for over $71 million to assist several thousands of people caught up in the disaster as the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) at the United Nations Humanitarian Agency, Thursday, raised the alarm on a possible rise in the number of casualties.

Describing the incident as “catastrophic”, the Head, OCHA, Martin Griffiths, said, “Getting lifesaving supplies to people, preventing a secondary health crisis, and swiftly restoring some kind of normality must override any other concern at this difficult time for Libya. Entire neighbourhoods have been wiped off the map. Whole families, taken by surprise, were swept away in the deluge of water.”

Two days earlier on September 8, a powerful earthquake measuring 8.6 magnitude hit the High Atlas Mountains, south-west of Marrakesh, Morocco at 18.5 depth, throwing the 840,000 residents of the area into confusion, with several houses caving in, leading to a heavy death toll that keeps increasing as search for survivors and those buried under the rubble continues many days after.

The situation was not different in Al Haouz Province, where over 3,000 people died and some 6,000 others sustained varying degrees of injuries, according to the local authorities.

The earthquake, believed to have been caused by shallow oblique-thrust faulting beneath the mountain range, is not only the strongest instrumentally recorded earthquake in the country but also the deadliest since the 1960 Agadir earthquake. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 300,000 people from Marrakesh and the surrounding areas were affected, including 100,000 children.

Coming with a massive force and totally destroying historic landmarks in Marrakesh, the earthquake is the second-deadliest of the year after the Turkey–Syria earthquake, with the effects felt across Spain, Portugal and Algeria.

While relief efforts and emergency operations continue with governments and organisations across the globe mobilising humanitarian support to the government of Morocco and victims of the natural disasters, the incidents in the two countries are pointers to the effects of global warming and environmental challenges across the globe as the need to be prepared always in order not to be caught unawares becomes more necessary now than ever

The failure of governance was totally responsible for the escalation of the Libyan incident as the country soon deteriorated into a failed state after the death of its strongman, Muamar Ghaddafi, with two separate governments in control of the country, thus delaying swift action to be taken once the signs of the impending doom became glaring. The big lesson for African countries is to strive to always put a good and acceptable government in place in order to quickly respond to emergencies wherever the need arises.

For us in Nigeria, our government at various levels must always be prepared for emergency response and assistance as warning signals of heavy floods in various states and communities have already been given and there should be no excuse for inaction or any delay whenever disaster strikes as a stitch in time saves nine.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in fact stated on Wednesday that at least 13 states and 50 communities are likely to witness heavy rainfall, which may lead to flooding between September 13 and 17. The Lagos Territorial Coordinator of NEMA, Ibrahim Farinloye, listed the states and communities to include Kano, with communities like Sumaila and Kunchi, likely to be affected, saying Kebbi State, with communities including Argungu, and Katsina State, with Bindawa, Jibia, Kaita, Katsina communities are also likely to be affected. Other states listed also include Niger, Zamfara, Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Gombe, Jigawa, Benue, Niger and Bayelsa.

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