Libyans 'Rise Above Old Wounds' and Divisions After Extreme Floods, Says Youth Minister

Libya flag
20 September 2023

Fatalla Elzuni, Libya's Minister of Youth, in an address on Thursday to the UN General Assembly, expressed deep sympathy and offered his condolences to Libyans "in the throes of a disastrous tragedy" following the devastating rains and floods that hit the east of the country last week.

Mr. Elzuni called the devastating floods that struck the Libyan district of Jabal al-Akhdar this month "a terrible spectacle," stating the torrential rains claimed the lives of thousands while many more remain missing.

"I wish to begin by expressing my condolences to the people of Libya. I wish to do so personally. I convey my full sympathy and deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the flooding and torrential rains in the region of Jabal al-Akhdar, especially in the towns of Derna, Bayda, and Sousse," he told delegates at the General Assembly's annual high-level debate.

Mr. Elzuni, speaking on behalf of the President of Libya's Presidential Council, who had remained in the country due to the floods, also extended his condolences to the people and Government of Morocco over its recent earthquake.

"I ask God to speed the recovery of the injured."

International support

Although the Libyan Government has gone to great efforts to cope with the disaster by evacuating people, burying the dead, rescuing those buried in rubble, and addressing public health concerns, "the scale of the disaster has fully surpassed all local capacity," Mr. Elzuni revealed.

He appealed to the international community to live up to its responsibility and provide Libya assistance in the aftermath of the "disastrous tragedy", especially to avoid potential public health crises.

Stating that "the greatest values are born from the greatest suffering," he emphasized that, since the tragedy, Libyans have set aside political differences in order to transcend divisions of the past and set a positive course toward the future.

This is "a lesson that we need to pass on to our children to avoid repeating the errors" of past generations, he noted.

Setting an example

He stressed that the Libyan people have set an example through solidarity, national cohesion, and responsibility, and that their voices must be heard.

Mr. Elzuni also claimed that Libya's response to the crisis symbolized the birth of a new era and emphasized the need to hold democratic elections to ensure a unified authority.

"It is time for democracy to begin in Libya, grounded in the will of the people, and in sincerity," he said.

Full statement available in Arabic here.

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