All means used to distribute Morocco earthquake aid

تم النشر: 4 مارس 2004 0:00 CET

Rana Sidani in Al-Hoceima

Donkeys were the only solution. Trucks and 4-wheel drive cars could not negotiate the narrow, dirt roads to take the humanitarian aid to the earthquake-stricken population in Tamasint, northern Morocco.

The Moroccan Red Crescent Society (MRCS), which is leading the relief operation following the earthquake that struck Al-Hoceima province on 24 February, had loaded its trucks with tents and other humanitarian goods to take them to the more remote and scattered communities villages.

But getting to the affected population was another matter. The terrain was simply too mountainous, the roads too uneven.

With people having spent many nights sleeping outside, delivering the tents was an urgent task. In this situation, though, technology did not present the solution. The only way to deliver these essential goods to those who needed them was to transport them using the families’ donkeys.

This is a rural society, where news circulates by word of mouth. Everyone was at the appointed place, accompanied by their “means of transportation”, waiting for the Red Cross/Red Crescent to arrive. At the mosques and schools, the village chiefs prepared lists of those most in need of assistance.

In some areas, the aid convoys have to cross rivers and mountains to reach these remote villages. Once the convoys arrive from their long journey, the distribution process can begin. It often lasts from early in the morning until late at night.

“It is freezing during the night. The cold weather will continue until May,” said Ahmed Beni-Hado, who had been sleeping outdoor with his seven children for six days. “The tents are the only thing we need.”

Ahmed couldn’t understand why he could see the sky from his bed. A part of his bedroom collapsed. “When I saw the stars, I thought I was dreaming. Then I understood that it was an earthquake and I started calling to my sons to get out the home. Since that moment we haven’t gone back,” he explained.

The earthquake, which measured 6.3 on the Richter scale, killed 572 people and made tens of thousand homeless. Seven days after the tremor, The MRCS and International Federation had distributed 4,600 tents in the south of Al-Hoceima province.

The MRCS has mobilized more than 330 volunteers, who continue to travel the roads and hills around Al-Hoceima, to make sure all victims receive adequate assistance.

“We are still finding villages where people need tents, so we will continue distributions until everyone has adequate shelter,” says Benoit Porte, who heads the Federation’s team in the field.

The distribution of kitchen sets, blankets, jerry cans and water purification tablets will be carried out during the coming days.

Meanwhile, a Moroccan Red Crescent mobile clinic is moving from village to village, providing basic health care to people in remote areas. Since the earthquake, it has treated some 350 patients.

Some 1,200 people are being sheltered in a MRCS-managed tented camp in the town of Im Zouren. Every day, volunteers distribute food and other relief goods, and provide essential psychosocial support to earthquake victims, especially children.