As Muammar Gaddafi’s forces were bearing down on Benghazi in the spring of 2011, the international community used the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) principle to intervene in Libya to prevent the potential commission of genocide.
The same moral imperative that drove that intervention is the one that needs to guide the international community’s actions in the wake of the floods that have devastated eastern Libya and caused the deaths of thousands upon thousands of innocent Libyans and expatriates.
In 24 hours, more souls have perished in Libya than in any conflicts that have plagued the country for the last 12 years.
The horrific scale of the catastrophe in the port city of Derna was the bitter harvest of the cataclysmic forces of climate change, decades of woeful infrastructure neglect, years of brutal and violent conflict, administrative chaos and division, and a great measure of incompetence.
It has been heartening to see the outpouring of Libyan and international assistance for the victims of this disaster. Libyans have pulled together in an unprecedented manner. Aid convoys from many of the country’s western conclaves have flowed eastward.
The National Oil Corporation dedicated one of its vessels to ferry much-needed assistance. The first responders — particularly the Libyan Red Crescent — have performed heroically; too many of its cadre have themselves fallen victim to the storm and its aftermath.