Flood disaster support hindered by Libya’s ‘broken infrastructure’ – Cleverly

More than 11,000 people have died in eastern towns in Libya.

Richard Wheeler
Sunday 17 September 2023 12:27 BST
James Cleverly said the UK is examining what more it can do to help, although the lack of a ‘high-functioning’ government to liaise and co-ordinate with is proving difficult (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)
James Cleverly said the UK is examining what more it can do to help, although the lack of a ‘high-functioning’ government to liaise and co-ordinate with is proving difficult (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)

Libya’s “broken infrastructure” caused by civil war is hindering efforts to provide emergency support following the flood disaster, according to the Foreign Secretary.

James Cleverly said the UK is examining what more it can do to help, although the lack of a “high-functioning” government to liaise and co-ordinate with is proving difficult.

Storm Daniel caused deadly flooding in many eastern towns, including Derna, with more than 11,000 people killed.

The civil war has in many ways broken the infrastructure that you would normally wish to deploy in a terrible, terrible situation like this

James Cleverly

Mr Cleverly said Libya is a “divided country”, telling Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips on Sky News: “In other places, the international effort can move more quickly.

“The civil war has in many ways broken the infrastructure that you would normally wish to deploy in a terrible, terrible situation like this.”

Mr Cleverly, appearing on the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme, later said: “One of the big challenges with Libya is, unlike in other areas where the UK has been able to join other countries in supporting, for example during the Turkish earthquakes or during recent earthquakes in Morocco, in both those countries there was a high-functioning government that we could liaise with, that we could plug in to, we could co-ordinate with.

“Sadly, in that eastern part of Libya we just don’t have that. That is why we’re not seeing the international support on the ground as we would wish.

“The UK has allocated £1 million already, we are contributing an additional £10 million to help across the wider north Africa region – both Morocco and Libya – and we’ve got an emergency medical team who are deploying and we will look at what more we can do.”

Libya has been mired in conflict since a 2011 uprising that toppled long-ruling dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The north Africa country remains divided between two rival administrations – one in the east and one in the west, each backed by militias and foreign governments – following more than a decade of chaos.

The conflict has left the oil-rich country with crumbling and inadequate infrastructure.

Mr Cleverly was asked if the UK has a special responsibility to help Libya, rather than say the situation is too difficult, given the UK’s involvement in the 2011 military intervention.

He said: “No. So, first of all, we’re not being fatalistic about this. We will continue to do whatever we can to help. We will continue working with international partners. In fact, I discussed this on my recent trip to Ankara with the Turkish authorities who are seeking to help.

“Colonel Gaddafi perpetrated brutality, not just on his own people but more broadly.

“Libya has not recovered from the civil war that raged across that country for many, many years.

“The UK played an active part; I personally played an active part through what’s known as the Berlin Process, which is an international coalition to try and bring about elections, to try and get a high-functioning government. But unfortunately, as we’re seeing, we’ve not been successful in that.”

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