from AHMED ZAYED in Tripoli, Libya
TRIPOLI – LIBYAN authorities have been urged to guarantee unrestricted and full access to the internet, in the aftermath of the devastating floods.
Access Now, the pro-internet advocacy group, also appealed to authorities in the divided North African country to safeguard the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people in Derna, the epicentre of the storms, and across the country.
After Libya’s devastating flood disaster, Derna has been experiencing significant communication blackout and internet shutdown, further exacerbating the disaster.
This happened at a time where unofficial figures indicated at least 11 300 individuals were dead and 43 000 others displaced.
Marwa Fatafta, Middle East and North Africa (MENA ) Policy And Advocacy Manager At Access Now, noted internet access was a critical humanitarian need in times of crisis.
“People cannot confidently and consistently access information, contact family or friends, or share their voices. Authorities must rectify this immediately,” Fatafta said.
Media reports have indicated that communications were cut amid large protests demanding answers about the catastrophic flood.
The Libyan Post Telecommunications and Information Technology Company (LPTIC) attributed the disruption to a cut to fiber optic cables.
This year alone, Access Now has reported what it has termed the harmful consequences of losing access to the internet and other online services during times of crises in Turkey and Iraq.
“After any crisis, access to online platforms and services becomes more important than ever, serving as a lifeline for people searching for their loved ones or checking on their families,” said Kassem Mneja, MENA campaigner at Access Now.
– CAJ News