Morocco accepts limited aid while expressing gratitude for international solidarity

Search and rescue efforts have continued more than 48 hours after the devastating earthquake hit

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Morocco has limited the amount of aid it is accepting in response to Friday's devastating earthquake that killed nearly 2,500 people, after several countries offered assistance.

In a statement, Morocco's government said the kingdom welcomes acts of solidarity by the international community but has conducted assessments and will subsequently accept aid from Spain, Qatar, the UK and the UAE.

"With the progress of intervention operations, the assessment of possible needs could evolve, which would make it possible to resort to offers of support presented by other friendly countries, according to the specific needs of each stage," the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

Germany, which has offered aid and maintains good ties with Morocco, has said it does not see any indications that Morocco's decision to forego offers of assistance is political.

"Diplomatic relations between Germany and Morocco are good," a German Foreign Ministry representative said on Monday, Morocco thanked Germany for its offer of help, he said.

As Germany learned from deadly flooding in 2021 in the Ahr valley, aid co-ordination is important during major disasters to ensure rescue workers do not impede each other, the spokesman said.

"I'm sure that they [Morocco] have thought very carefully about which forces can be deployed where and how they can get there, what transport capacities are available, for example."

Germany is among several countries, notably France, that have said they stand ready to help if asked.

"Morocco is a sovereign country and it's up to it to organise the aid," French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna told BFMTV on Monday.

Ms Colonna said France has released $5.4 million to help NGOs in Morocco.

Search and rescue

People spent a third night outside after their homes were destroyed, or because they were too afraid of aftershocks that could cause further destruction to their homes.

Rescuers raced against the time on Monday, more than 48 hours after the earthquake first hit in the High Atlas Mountains, as teams from Spain, the UK and Qatar carried out efforts on the ground southwest of Marrakesh.

As of Monday, the death toll has gone up to 2,497 with 2,476 people injured, the state news agency reported.

Saudi Arabia said it has set up an aid corridor to Morocco, through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief), and will include a search and rescue team from the civil defence and teams from the Saudi Red Crescent Authority.

The gesture is “an extension of the humanitarian role played by the kingdom of Saudi Arabia in standing with those affected and in need around the world in various crises and tribulations", said Abdulla Al Rabbeah, who is head of KSRelief.

In Imgdal, a village about 75km south of Marrakesh, women and children huddled early on Monday morning under makeshift tents set up along the road and next to damaged buildings. Some gathered around an open fire. Further south, a car stood crushed by boulders that had fallen from the cliff.

Authorities have yet to issue a figure of how many people are still missing.

Updated: September 11, 2023, 1:19 PM