LNA cracks down on access for journalists and aid teams to disaster-hit Derna

Sep 19, 2023 | International actors

On 19 September, all communications including internet and phone calls with Derna were down due an optical fibre cable being cut – though reports vary as to whether this was accidental or an act of sabotage. Journalists able to access satellite connects at the time of writing (afternoon of 19 th ) claimed they had been prevented from reporting in Derna by the Libyan National Army (LNA), and were receiving mixed messages about why and whether they would be allowed to resume. Eastern authorities denied that journalists had been prevented from accessing the city, but said instead they had been asked to stay away from the worst affected areas so that they don’t interfere with rescue efforts, noting they had been interrupting volunteers and wasting their time. Further reports indicate that security permits for many journalists in the city have been suspended.

Other reports indicated that Government of National Stability (GNS) Minister of Health Othman Abdul Jalil has ordered that international aid organisations and medical teams and volunteers from Libya leave the city due to the risk of disease, as well as journalists. However there are more mixed messages here, with othersources saying that international and Libyan teams were working normally and had not been asked to stop working, stressing new teams from Turkey and Hungary had arrived today. Rather they indicate that access for rescue teams to certain areas of the city has been restricted, purportedly for health reasons. However, the Tripoli-based National Centre of Disease Control has denied that there is a need to evacuate people due to the fear of an epidemic.