Pierre Trouche, a member of Atlas Logistique, part of Humanity & Inclusion's Logistics Division, is joining the emergency coordination teams in Libya, along with two other Atlas colleagues, Celine Galland and Stevy Nguyen Khac. He explains Atlas Logistique’s role in this crisis:
Setting up the coordination center
”We are all members of Atlas Logistique and we are on our way to eastern Libya to support the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC). UNDAC is the UN agency that facilitates the coordination of responses to major disasters, mainly by coordinating civil protection teams and making initial diagnoses. Atlas Logistique will be providing UNDAC with its logistics expertise.
We are joining a team of 15 people tasked with providing emergency relief. UNDAC will have three missions in Libya:
- coordinating relief efforts and ensuring effective liaison between foreign and local relief workers;
- assessing the needs and especially any risks that could exacerbate the crisis, such as epidemics or infrastructure failure, which could add another crisis to the existing one;
- and finally, facilitating coordination with the local authorities, who are quite understandably completely overwhelmed by the situation.
Atlas Logistics has a very specific role to play: we will be setting up the center out of which all of these missions will be coordinated. In concrete terms, we may be called upon to set up the infrastructure itself, ensure its electricity supply, transport people, deliver food supplies, etc.
These actions are essential, as they allow the emergency operations to be organized.
An extremely complex situation in Libya
In Libya, we are operating in a very particular context. The country has been devastated by more than 10 years of war. It is split in two and run by two rival governments. Its health system is in a state of collapse.
Contamination from explosive remnants of war makes all emergency missions extremely dangerous. We believe that some of the contamination in Derna has probably been displaced by the mudslides and flooding.
Powerful Storm Daniel
On Sunday, Sept. 10, eastern Libya was hit by a devastating subtropical Mediterranean hurricane (or Medicane), with powerful winds and sudden torrential rainfall. This extreme weather event affected a number of towns and cities, including Benghazi, Tobruk, Toukra, Talmeitha, Almarj, Taknes (Al Jabal Al Akhdar), Al Owailia, Bayada, Albayda, Shahhat, Sousa and Derna.
In Derna, the worst-hit city, two dams collapsed under the overwhelming pressure of the flooding, causing entire neighborhoods to be swept into the sea. Several thousand people are dead or missing. The death toll is rising daily.
The storm has caused major damage to infrastructure, including the road network, disrupted telecommunications services, damaged more than 715 buildings, left around 7,000 families stranded and led to the displacement of at least 21,000 people and some 10,000 calls for help, according to the International Federation of the Red Cross.