The civil war in Libya has “broken the infrastructure” the UK would normally use to provide aid, according to the foreign secretary, amid concerns victims of flooding in the country are missing out on the help they desperately need.
Speaking to Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips, James Cleverly was asked why less aid appears to have been sent to Libya when compared to disasters like the earthquake in Turkey earlier this year, and the recent disaster in Morocco.
Sky’s Alex Crawford, who is in Derna in Libya, laid out some of the challenges facing people impacted by the floods.
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In response, Mr Cleverly said: “Alex has, I think, highlighted a number of key challenges and perhaps differences between the situation that we see in Libya and in others in Morocco and in Turkey.
“In both these other examples – Morocco and Turkey – we had effective government which had control over the geographical area of the tragedies in question. It is a very different situation in Libya.”
Mr Cleverly explained the UK had provided £1m worth of support, which included sending an emergency medical team.
“But the governance situation in Libya makes it incredibly difficult. Essentially it is a divided country and as Alex was saying in other places, the international effort can move more quickly,” he said.
“The civil war has in many ways broken the infrastructure that you would normally wish to deploy in a terrible, terrible situation like this.”
After the Arab Spring and the death of Muammar Gaddafi, civil war broke out in Libya in 2014.
A cease-fire was declared in 2020, but there are still divides between two of the sides in the conflict.
Reacting to the foreign secretary’s words, Alex Crawford explained there are two authorities in Libya – the western administration and the eastern administration.
Derna, where the flood struck, is in the east of the country.
Alex said: “It’s a very complicated political situation and both sides are trying to make capital of this.
“And certainly the Libyans feel that the British have more of a connection with the west rather than the east.
“They definitely don’t feel that they are getting enough international support – they haven’t specifically mentioned Britain – it’s all the international community, and they’re worried that the international community is going to end up dealing with the west, which is the United Nations recognised government.”
Alex added: “Both governments, both authorities, have got a very poor reputation amongst Libyans themselves.
“They’re identified as being corrupt, greedy, self-serving, not really for the Libyan people. And they’re worried that whatever aid comes in is going to be snatched by corrupt officials.”
She added: “There’s got to be some sort of way of getting round this bureaucracy and tiptoeing through this minefield of politics because the actual Libyan people are crying out for aid.”