Violent earthquake strikes populations in rural and inaccessible areas
This 6.8 magnitude earthquake, the most powerful and devastating ever recorded in the country according to the Moroccan media, hit the province of Al-Haouz in the High Atlas region, south-west of Marrakech, as well as the provinces of Chichaoua (Marrakech region) and Taroudant (Souss Massa region). Several aftershocks occurred in the country over the following days; although less powerful, these tremors left Moroccans worried.
The earthquake has left more than 2,900 dead and more than 5,500 injured , mainly in the provinces of Al-Haouz and Taroudant. Many people are still trapped under the rubble, some villages are still inaccessible and the number of victims may still rise as rescue and evacuation operations progress. These operations are complicated by the lack of access to these mountainous areas.
"Thousands of people have been injured. Many more have lost everything and are shocked by the violence of this unprecedented earthquake", explains Céline Abric, Country Manager of the Morocco programme at HI. "The worst-affected areas are fairly remote, with little public infrastructure, which makes it more difficult to coordinate and deliver aid to the survivors".
The humanitarian response will have to be organised over the long term to help rebuild what has been destroyed. Local communities will need support to regain stability and deal with the physical and psychological after-effects of this tragic event.
HI is working alongside local partners to help victims
Mobilised immediately, Moroccan associations and authorities are working hard to organise the emergency response and aid for the victims of the earthquake.
Present in Morocco since 1993, HI has mobilised our teams and is working in close collaboration with our partners. Together we will identify their needs and define the framework for a tailored response that complements the colossal work already being carried out by local organisations.
Initially, HI will help to distribute essential goods (hygiene products, tents, mobility aids, etc.). As soon as possible, we also want to support the Moroccan actors working with injured and traumatised people, who need rehabilitation care and psychological support. In the aftermath of an earthquake, the need for rehabilitation is immense: if injured people are not given appropriate care, their injuries can worsen or become permanent disabilities.
"We expect a significant need for rehabilitation," says Céline Abric. "In addition, survivors,particularly women and vulnerable groups such as children, older people and people with disabilities, have suffered significant trauma and will need psychological support. Lastly, it is crucial to bear in mind the medium- and long-term challenges: temperatures are beginning to fall in this mountainous region and the area is not easily accessible. The inhabitants no longer have any shelter to protect them from the cold and bad weather."
HI's teams, which have been working in Morocco for over 30 years, are continuing their work in collaboration with local associations and authorities to adapt their activities to meet needs that will continue to increase in the weeks and months ahead.