Red Cross Red Crescent assistance arrives in Morocco

Published: 25 February 2004

The first international Red Cross Red Crescent relief flights arrived in Morocco today, bringing essential humanitarian assistance for victims of the violent earthquake that hit the country’s northeastern coast yesterday, leaving at least 560 people dead and many hundreds injured.

The Spanish Red Cross, with Spanish government assistance, flew in 7.6 tonnes of humanitarian aid including 1,000 hygiene kits, 1000 blankets, 100 beds, 150 first aid kits and other relief items. The Spanish Red Cross sent also a team of five people to support the Moroccan Red Crescent in a further evaluation of needs.

“Red Crescent volunteers have already distributed emergency relief items, including blankets, kitchen sets, hygiene items and plastic sheeting to the affected population. The urgent needs are still tents, blankets and medicines,” said Mariano Fernández, secretary general of the Spanish Red Cross Melilla branch, who travelled to villages near Al Hoceima.

“We have visited the most affected areas with the Moroccan Red Crescent. There has been a lot of damage. You can see the fear in people’s faces. We felt a big aftershock today and people do not want to go inside any buildings. Those who still have homes do not want to return,” he added.

Tomorrow, five planeloads of relief goods are expected at Al-Hoceima and Nador airports. They will carry clothing, blankets, jerry cans, warehouse and family tents, vehicles and kitchen sets, donated by the Red Cross Societies of Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Spain. Included will be a Spanish Red Cross logistics emergency response unit.

Earlier today, the International Federation launched an appeal for 2.8 million Swiss francs (US$ 2.3 million) to provide assistance for up to 30,000 people.

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