Morocco’s aid is faltering: ‘State wants to retain control’ 12:54 in Domestic, Abroad Complaints come from Morocco that emergency aid is not happening fast enough. The sticky bureaucracy could be a cause.

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Rescue workers search for victims in the village of Talat N’Yaaqoub
Earthquake Morocco
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“There is no sign of the authorities. We are so remote here. We asked them for help but have not received anything yet.” Mustapha El-Machmoum complains about it to a reporter from the AFP news agency. His hometown of Tafeghaghte is one of the hardest-hit mountain villages in the High Atlas, where the earthquake occurred late Friday evening. The death toll now stands at almost 2,500.

He is not the only one who believes that too little assistance is being provided to the disaster area by the state. There are pleas on social media from villagers who have nothing left.

Meanwhile, the Moroccan government has allowed only a few countries to send search and rescue teams. The British and Spanish are active in the country with the so-called USAR teams and help is also coming from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The Netherlands has also had a USAR search and rescue team ready since Saturday morning, but has to wait until a request for help comes from Morocco. “We will never be deployed without such a request,” says USAR Netherlands. For comparison: after the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, the Dutch team was at the disaster area the same evening.

Such a centrally managed crisis organization is not unusual, Thea Hilhorst explains. She is professor of humanitarian studies at Erasmus University. “It is important for every country to keep an eye on what is happening. You can think ‘open the borders’, but then things get quite messy locally.”

Especially when a disaster area is so vast, remote and the narrow roads are even more difficult to navigate because boulders block the passage. “Then you can stand there with ten of us, but then you still won’t get where you want to go.” Moreover, according to Hilhorst, Morocco has an army that is capable of a lot. “They showed this, for example, during corona times, by creating emergency hospitals.”

Yet she also gets the impression that action is not being taken as quickly as ideally should be done. “For quite some time now, people have been emphasizing the importance of first conducting research and seeing what is needed instead of starting rescue work. While there are still people under the rubble.” Morocco does not make use of the option of having the United Nations coordinate emergency aid, as is often the case.

Reporter Mustafa Marghadi traveled through the disaster area yesterday and made this report:

Report from the disaster area: ‘Everything is destroyed in Moulay Brahim’

So there will be no USAR team from the Netherlands to Morocco and for the time being there will be no national fundraising campaign by the cooperating aid organizations. Some of the Giro555 organizations are not active in Morocco and cannot work there without permission.

That is important if you are going to raise money in the Netherlands, explains Derk Segaar of Giro 555 in Spraakmakers on NPO Radio 1. “We want to be able to fulfill the promise that the aid will be delivered properly.”

He emphasizes that despite the lack of a national fundraising campaign, a lot of help is being provided by organizations that were already active in the country, such as the Red Cross, Care and Unicef. “So you can donate there.”

  • Earthquake death toll continues to rise, to at least 2,862
  • Day three after the devastating earthquake in Morocco: this is the state of affairs
  • International aid to Morocco is underway, four countries admitted
  • Collection

    Earthquake Morocco

  • Domestic

  • Abroad

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