THE Morocco should request help from the UN “today or tomorrow (Friday or Saturday) ” to help survivors of the powerful earthquake who did at least 2,946 dead and 5,674 injuredsaid this Friday the head of UN emergency operations, Martin Griffiths.
“We expect and hope — based on our discussions with the Moroccan authorities — that the request for istance will be sent today or tomorrow, I mean (…) very soon,” declared the United Nations coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths, during a press briefing in Geneva.
He explained that once Morocco has obtained the green light, the United Nations will be able to participate in the survivor istance phase. After such an earthquake, the first phase “focuses on finding survivors and those who did not survive”, while “the next phase involves providing help for survivors, shelter, food, medical supplies,” he said. “In Morocco, I hope we are moving from one phase to another,” he added.
“No criticism” against the kingdom
Sunday evening, Morocco announced that it had accepted offers from four countries to send search and rescue teams: Spain, the United Kingdom, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The country had not responded to that of France, sign of a certain unease between the two countries. Martin Griffiths did not criticize the fact that Morocco did not immediately appeal to the UN, and stressed that the “first days of a sudden catastrophe are always marked by relative confusion”.
“I therefore have no critical remarks to make. We are ready to work and provide coordination support,” said the senior UN official.
“It is only recently that in Morocco we have moved from finding survivors to helping survivors. And this is when aid is of the utmost importance,” he insisted.
The balance sheet may have been undervalued
The earthquake reached magnitude 7, according to the Moroccan Center for Scientific and Technical Research (6.8 according to the American Institute of Geophysics, USGS). It is the most powerful to have ever been measured in Morocco.
It occurred on the night of September 8 to 9 in the province of Al-Haouz south of Marrakech, leaving 2,946 dead and 5,674 injured, according to the latest official report published Wednesday evening. “I am sure that this is an underestimation, but it was carefully carried out by the authorities,” noted Martin Griffiths.
VIDEO. Morocco: in the isolated villages of the Atlas, the dismay of earthquake victims
This Thursday, at 6:53 a.m. local time, an aftershock of magnitude 4.6 on the Richter scale, was recorded by the American Institute of Geophysics and the site Myearthquakealerts.com, 120 km southwest of Marrakech.
Rain and cold feared in the coming days
The earthquake devastated many village homes located in mountainous areas, sometimes very difficult to access. “It will take weeks, months, years to be able to rebuild because we are not talking about repairs. We are talking about rebuilding several of these villages,” said a spokesperson for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Benoît Carpentier, from Marrakech during the press briefing.
The IFRC launched a fundraising call of around 100 million euros to help support operations in Morocco. The survivors need shelter, mattresses, blankets, warm clothes, explained Benoît Carpentier.
” Next Tuesday (September 19), they are expecting storms and rain, and people are still sleeping outside. In the coming weeks in the mountains, it will be between zero and minus 10 degrees. We have to make sure that all these people have something, a roof, some kind of roof over their heads,” he insisted. A new race against time for the victims.