Ambassador defends response of Moroccan government to earthquake
The Moroccan government has come under fire for its handling of the devastating earthquake that struck the country on Friday. Dozens of countries have offered to help, but no official request has yet been received from Morocco. Only the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Spain, the UK and Saudi Arabia have officially been asked for help.
Morocco has been criticised for rejecting aid from other countries for political reasons. A prominent example is France, with which the country has strained relations due to its proximity to Algeria.
In an interview with francophone news channel RTBF, the Moroccan ambassador to Belgium, Mohammed Ameur, rejected this suggestion. "Morocco is not isolated in the world," he said. "We have good relations, friendship and respect. We have been offered help by so many countries. We don't refuse help because of disputes or international conflicts."
"We don't refuse help because of disputes or international conflicts"
Morocco wants to avoid aid workers getting in each other's way. "Too much aid can backfire when it comes to organising the situation on the ground," Ameur said. "In a first phase, we have accepted help from some countries. But Morocco will need help from these other countries in the coming hours, days and weeks."
More than 72 hours after the devastating earthquake, the death toll has risen to 2,901, with a further 5,530 people injured. Most of the victims lived in remote villages in the Atlas Mountains. Some fear the death toll will rise sharply as many of these villages have not yet been reached by rescue teams.
"Morocco will need help from these other countries in the coming hours, days and weeks"
"We have experience, there are resources and they have been deployed," Ameur said. "The area is mountainous, access to many places is blocked by debris. So the emergency services can't get everywhere right away, the army sometimes has to go on foot and remove debris. But the tools are there."
© PHOTO FADEL SENNA / AFP