Shelter for Morocco earthquake survivors

تم النشر: 27 فبراير 2004 0:00 CET

Rana Sidani in Im Zouren, Morocco

It is quiet again at night in the village of Im Zouren, 18 kilometres from the coastal city of Al Houceima in northeast Morocco. For 700 survivors, it was their first night under shelter since they became homeless in the earthquake that struck the region two days beforehand. Although it may not be the ideal place, a Moroccan Red Crescent tented camp in the village is safer than living in damaged buildings and warmer than the open air. Non-stop aftershocks have meant survivors have been forced to sleep in the open air for two nights in a row.

For five-year-old Mohamed, sleep was once again possible as the Moroccan Red Crescent erected a tent for him and for his family.

“Will it be back?” Mohamed keeps asking his parents.

“Aftershocks don’t only shake the land but there is also a grim sound,” Mohamed’s mother says. “My son doesn’t stop crying. Maybe being under a tent will reassure him.”

Although some buildings are not damaged, families are traumatized by what has happened and don’t want to be under any roof. Especially after aftershocks on 26 January left two people, who had insisted on staying in their damaged homes, dead.

The tented Moroccan Red Crescent camp at Im Zouren is not the only assistance being provided for the survivors in the village. “In one day, the Red Crescent treated more than 50 injuries – mainly broken bones caused by panic from aftershocks,” says Badreddine Bensaoud, secretary general of the Moroccan Red Crescent.

A few kilometers from the camp, the airport at Al-Husayma was quite busy. Two planeloads of relief goods sent by the German, Norwegian, Netherlands and Finnish Red Cross have just arrived.

The planes have brought essential humanitarian assistance for the people in the region which is being coordinated by the Spanish Red Cross and the International Federation. Among the items are kitchen sets, clothing, blankets, jerry cans, family tents, mobile warehouses, hygiene kits and plastic sheeting to be distributed to the survivors by Red Crescent volunteers.

Keeping survivors alive and healthy is now the focus. Search and rescue efforts are coming to an end with workers facing problems in reaching remote mountain villages. The last survivor was a four-year-old girl pulled out on 26 January, but there is little hope that any more survivors will be now be found.