UVA Community Responds to Libyan Humanitarian Crisis With Hearts and Minds

A Humanitarian Crisis Unfolds

Libya is dealing with a new crisis on top of multiple older ones, noted Kirsten Gelsdorf, a professor who worked with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs before coming to UVA. She is a professor of practice of public policy and leadership and the director of global humanitarian policy at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

The nation’s problems included the pre-existing collapse of civil institutions and conflict between warring factions. Families were already struggling as a result.

“There were already thousands of migrants, internally displaced people, and refugees living in the northeast, where the storm and floods hit. Before the storm, there were already over 300,000 people in Libya who were in need of humanitarian aid,” Gelsdorf said.

She added that about 880,000 people in five provinces live in areas directly affected by the storm and flash floods.

“One lesson that we are unfortunately learning is that when countries are struggling with ongoing insecurity, unexpected disasters driven by climate and degraded infrastructure are more likely to happen,” she said.

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