from AHMED ZAYED in Tripoli, Libya
TRIPOLI, (CAJ News) – ONE month after the devastation by Storm Daniel in Libya, the need for mental health care is becoming even more acute.
Hundreds of thousands of people east of the country are mourning the loss of over 4 000 loved ones, homes, possessions and livelihoods.
Tens of thousands more are desperately hoping for news of the nearly 9 000 people who remain missing.
“The emotional and physical toll of this disaster has been immense,” Tamer Ramadan, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Head of Delegation in Libya, said.
The floods have wreaked havoc, displaced thousands and strained already fragile infrastructures in regions such as Derna and Tobruk.
In light of the escalating needs, IFRC has officially launched an appeal for ₣10 million (US$11 million) to support the ongoing efforts of LRCS in providing comprehensive aid and care for survivors.
As of now, ₣3 million have been raised, leaving a crucial 70 percent of funding appeal yet to be met.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that at least one in five people will suffer from mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder in the aftermath of a major emergency like Storm Daniel.
Mental health services were one of the top three priorities – along with safe water and primary health care services – identified by an interagency assessment team that visited eastern Libya in the early days of the disaster.
“Broken bones can be mended, but psychological wounds – which are often invisible – take much longer to heal,” said Dr Ahmed Zouiten, WHO Representative in Libya.
WHO is working with the authorities to make sure that people can obtain basic mental health support in primary health care facilities and community centres.
“However, some people in acute distress will require specialized psychological and psychiatric care,” Zouiten said.
WHO has appealed to neighbouring countries for assistance to help mitigate the acute shortages of psychiatrists and psychologists in the North African nation.
It also plans to train Libyan health workers, volunteers and emergency responders in psychological first aid and basic psychosocial support in a country also beset by conflict.
– CAJ News