Morocco is accepting limited foreign aid after a devastating earthquake, leaving survivors frustrated

Morocco is accepting limited foreign aid after a devastating earthquake, leaving survivors frustrated

Ivana Kutasova/CNN

Abdul Haq Al Abdullah decided to walk to seek help when it was clear no one would come soon.


Tafghaght, Atlas Mountains
CNN

Dressed in elegant holiday clothes and sunglasses, Shadia Halimi looked a bit out of place in the dusty camp on the edge of the mountainous village of Tafaght in the north of the country. Moroccan Atlas Mountains Which was settled last week Earthquake.

“It’s not the vacation I planned,” the 26-year-old French woman told CNN on Tuesday. “But I was here and I wanted to help. These people have nothing.”

Halimi was vacationing in Morocco when the earthquake occurred last week. She said she was in shock and felt lucky to be alive. When a call for volunteers appeared on television at her hotel, she signed up. A few hours later, she was in the mountains with an NGO called Angels of Blessing, distributing donations and comforting people.

The devastating earthquake killed more than 2,900 people and displaced tens of thousands. Many survivors had to wait several days for official government assistance to arrive, relying instead on aid privately organized and delivered by small groups of volunteers from across the country.

The Moroccan government said earlier this week that it is difficult to get aid to where it is needed most, because the areas where the earthquake caused the worst damage are located in mountainous areas that are difficult to reach.

CNN visited several villages where local residents said they felt abandoned by the government.

“Nothing is happening. We are just waiting. They decided not to do anything. They are just asking us to be patient, making promises,” Sami Sinsis, whose parents were killed in the village of Moulay Brahim, told CNN on Sunday, about 36 hours after the earthquake. “.

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Ibrahim Goodman, who survived the quake in a small village near Asni, said people there waited about 48 hours before any help arrived. In the village of Afghan, Abdul Haq al-Abdullah, whose shoulder was badly injured when he was buried under rubble, decided to walk across a destroyed section of road in search of a doctor after it became clear that medical help would not arrive.

But Amal Zniber, who heads the Moroccan educational charity Amis Des Écoles and has years of experience in humanitarian relief work, said people whose lives have just been upended by a tragedy may not see the full picture.

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Yellow tents are being built in severely affected villages, to provide some shelter.

Ivana Kutasova/CNN

Abdul Haq Al Abdullah decided to walk to seek help when it was clear no one would come soon.

“It is not true at all that the government did not help. The government was there from day one,” she told CNN.

“The extent of what happened is so extreme that you can’t be everywhere at the same time in that moment. Sometimes you need to step back and take stock. The main focus was to secure people and clear the roads so they can reach these people who are not They have no way.”

Morocco accepts assistance from a small number of countries

When the devastation caused by the earthquake became clear, several countries offered to send help.

The Moroccan Interior Ministry explained on Sunday that it had “conducted a careful assessment of the needs in the field” and said that “the lack of coordination in such cases will have adverse results.”

It said that based on the assessment, it had accepted offers of support from Spain, Qatar, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, but had not yet responded to other offers.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Saturday that the United States is “ready to provide any necessary assistance” to Morocco, but Morocco has not requested that assistance yet.

French President Emmanuel Macron said that Paris is also ready to help when the Moroccan authorities deem it useful.

When Morocco refused to accept the French offer, this sparked anger in some French media, which reported that the refusal may be due to diplomatic relations. Macron described such reports as “baseless disputes.”

Although there was clear frustration on the ground, France also said that Morocco had not refused assistance, while the Interior Ministry said in its statement that it was still able to request assistance from other “friendly countries.”

Ivana Kutasova/CNN

A field hospital in the village of Asni.

By Monday, the official response was clearer even in some remote areas. Large yellow tents provided by the government have appeared in villages in the mountains, providing shelter for people who have been staying outside since the earthquake struck on Friday.

Heavy machinery, including excavators and other equipment, was delivered. The army was organizing air drops of aid. A large field hospital and a camp for displaced people were built in the city of Asni.

Volunteers also kept coming. Abdelali Amzil and his neighbors loaded a truck full of food and water on Monday and drove into the mountains from Casablanca, about 300 kilometers away. “All the neighbors brought something,” he told CNN in the village of Werkan, where 600 people lost their homes and were camping in a nearby orchard.

Znipper said the response from ordinary people has been “incredible.”

“Everyone wants to help. We had a man who gave half a bag of rice to someone who was going up into the mountains. He said, ‘This is all I have.’ She said, ‘Can you please take it to them?’”

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