A Devastated Village in Egypt Mourns the Tragic Loss from the Libyan Floods

The recent floods in Libya have not only caused devastation in the city of Derna but have also profoundly impacted the village of al-Sharif in northern Egypt. This community, located hundreds of miles away from Derna, has suffered an immeasurable loss of lives and a profound sense of grief. The flood claimed the lives of seventy-four young men from al-Sharif who had ventured to Libya in search of better employment opportunities. This tragedy has left families shattered, mourning the loss of their loved ones and struggling to cope with the harsh reality of their absence.

Walking through al-Sharif, one witnesses the wave of mourning that has swept across the village. House after house holds mourning ceremonies, with families grieving for their young sons who perished in the floods. The al-Dabaa family, one of the largest in al-Sharif, has lost sixteen of its members, leaving behind a void that can never be filled. Jumaa al-Sayyid, a farmer now burdened with unimaginable grief, regrets having supported his three sons’ illegal journey to Libya. The heart-wrenching stories of mothers like Fatima Muhammad, who lost three young sons and is now left to raise their children alone, further encapsulate the magnitude of this tragedy.

The devastation reaches beyond the loss of life, as over a hundred people from al-Sharif who were residing in Derna remain unaccounted for. The uncertainty surrounding their fate adds to the already unbearable anguish experienced by their families. Raya Faisal, a desperate mother who lost contact with her two sons after the storm severed communication, prays relentlessly for their survival. The repercussions of this disaster extend far beyond the immediate grief and suffering, leaving the community in a state of despair and uncertainty about what lies ahead.

The circumstances leading to the mass migration of young men from al-Sharif to Libya highlight the enduring societal and economic challenges faced by Egypt. Al-Sharif, situated in Beni Suef, one of the most impoverished regions in the country, has a poverty rate exceeding 60%. With limited employment prospects and a desperate need to support their families, thousands of young men turned to Libya, even during times of grave turmoil. Egypt’s Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics reports that nearly 30% of the population in Egypt lives in poverty, emphasizing the urgency to address systemic issues that drive young men to seek work in unstable environments.

The Libyan flood is a stark reminder of the fragile state of the country, torn between two rival governments and the constant threat of violence. Despite the ongoing chaos since the uprising in 2011 and the subsequent death of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya remains a destination for Egyptian migrant workers. The International Organization for Migration estimates that there are more than 140,000 Egyptian workers in Libya, working predominantly in the construction sector. The desperate need for reasonable wages and the ability to support their families compelled these young men to venture into a war-torn nation.

In response to this tragic event, the Egyptian government through the Ministry of Social Solidarity is taking steps to determine the exact number of Egyptian casualties in the floods. The aim is to provide financial compensation to the families who have lost their loved ones. However, the grieving families of al-Sharif and the broader community must come to terms with the irreplaceable void left by this catastrophic event. The loss of seventy-four young lives has not only left a profound impact on the village but serves as a stark reminder of the pressing need to address poverty and lack of opportunities in the region.

As the people of al-Sharif struggle to rebuild their lives, they need the support and empathy of society at large. It is a reminder for us all to cherish our loved ones and work towards creating a more equitable society that offers hope and prospects for a better future. The devastating impact of the Libyan floods on this small village in Egypt serves as a call to action to address the root causes of such migration and prevent further tragedies from unfolding.