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'Help is still needed. There is so much more to be done'

Our outreach officer gives a behind-the-scenes view of how El Kul (For Everyone) is supporting Libya flood survivors with communication.

Sara Alhouni

Sara Alhouni

Outreach officer, El Kul
Published: 26 September 2023

Earlier in September, the northeast of Libya found itself plunged into a state of emergency that spanned two dreadful days, in catastrophic flooding that followed Storm Daniel.

In Derna, the city that has suffered most, there was a lot of confusion and conflicting messages on the Sunday night during the storm. People in vulnerable areas near the valley didn't know whether they should stay inside, because of a night curfew, or whether to evacuate immediately.

A maelstrom of emotions for survivors

Sadly, the situation took a tragic turn when two dams near Derna collapsed. This led to the loss of thousands of innocent people. Only a few hundred were rescued from the rubble of their homes; thousands remain missing and are presumed dead.

In this era of digital media, we saw the brave residents of Derna documenting their final moments in the flooding – records that are testament to the magnitude of this tragedy. Those who survived now find themselves in a maelstrom of emotions: confusion, profound sorrow, and a seething anger that simmers beneath it all. This heated atmosphere ignited a wave of protests, as survivors demanded accountability and rallied for unity amongst Libyans.

A lack of information contributes to the crisis

Libya remains deeply divided and there are not enough trustworthy sources of information, with too many conflicting reports. This lack of information, and the lack of trust in what information was available, has helped create this crisis. And now the spread of false information is making it worse, by making it difficult for vital aid and relief efforts to reach people in need.

At El Kul, our mission has been to provide dependable information amid the sea of contradictory and false narratives. Our aim on the first day was to equip both the Libyan population and the global community with a comprehensive understanding of the scale of the crisis. After that, we began generating Lifeline content tailored to those directly affected, as well as the host communities of internally displaced persons.

Lifelines for our fellow citizens

We have crafted numerous infographics, illustrations, and videos designed to serve as lifelines for our fellow citizens. These resources aim to guide individuals towards relief and medical assistance, underscore the dangers associated with contaminated water sources, emphasize the importance of considering the needs of marginalised communities, and stress the need to coordinate with both local authorities and the Red Crescent before volunteering in affected areas.

Some examples include (all links lead to El Kul's Facebook page)

  •      following the dam collapse
  •     and why travel to Derna requires coordinating with authorities and emergency responders
  •     and ensure it is safe to drink 
  •     who are volunteering to help those in need

In our work, we are putting a spotlight on the inspiring stories of individuals, including women, who have volunteered their time to help in the affected regions. Our hope is to inspire others to follow in their footsteps and to showcase the unwavering solidarity of the Libyan people in the face of adversity.

Communication can save lives

As we navigate this crisis, our commitment to unity, dependable information, and humanitarian aid remains steadfast. We want to emphasise the pivotal role of media in humanitarian response by providing trustworthy information, raising awareness, and aiding in the distribution of assistance.

Help is still needed. There is so much more to be done. We know that communication can save lives in time of disaster, so it is our duty to continue with this.

And in the midst of this challenging situation, a ray of hope has appeared. Libyans from all parts of the nation have come together, despite their political differences, to help those in need. The warm welcome extended to these volunteers demonstrates the enduring unity among the people of Libya.

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Sara Alhouni is outreach officer for El Kul, 鶹ƵAV Media Action’s digital media platform for Libyan audiences, reaching up to six million people a month. Follow it on and .

Listen to Sara Alhouni on the 鶹ƵAV World Service Fifth Floor (aired 22 September 2023).

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