Libya's eastern govt delays Derna reconstruction meeting

On Sunday, the committee said the postponed event would be held in both Derna and the eastern city of Benghazi.

October 02, 2023 03:50 am | Updated 10:32 am IST - Benghazi, Libya

Rescuers and relatives sit in front of collapsed buildings after recent flooding caused by Mediterranean storm Daniel, in Derna, Libya

Rescuers and relatives sit in front of collapsed buildings after recent flooding caused by Mediterranean storm Daniel, in Derna, Libya | Photo Credit: AP

Libya's eastern authorities said Sunday they had postponed a reconstruction conference for the flood-hit city of Derna that had been planned for October 10 but was met with international scepticism.

The event was put off until November 1-2 to "offer time for the submission of effective studies and projects" for the reconstruction effort, the committee charged with planning the meeting said in a statement.

The divided country's eastern administration last month invited the "international community" to attend the conference in Derna, the coastal city where a September 10-11 flash flood devastated large areas and killed thousands.

The authorities later said the conference would draw in international companies. On Sunday, the committee said the postponed event would be held in both Derna and the eastern city of Benghazi.

According to Saqr al-Jibani, head of the organising committee, the decision to hold off on the event followed requests by mayors of affected communities as well as business representatives who had expressed interest in attending.

The North African country has been wracked by years of fighting and chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

Libya is now split between an internationally recognised Tripoli-based administration in the west, and the one in the disaster-stricken east backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar.

The United States on Friday called on Libyans to set aside their political differences and agree on a framework to channel aid to eastern towns.

"We urge Libyan authorities now to form such unified structures -- rather than launching separate efforts -- that represent the Libyan people without delay," U.S. special envoy Richard Norland said in a statement.

Despite a wave of nationwide solidarity since the flood, there has been no show of support for the proposed conference from the Tripoli-based government of interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah.

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