Dozens of countries have sent the Moroccan government offers of collaboration in rescue tasks and aid to the victims of last Friday’s brutal earthquake, which so far has caused more than 2,600 deaths and 2,500 injuries. The authorities assure that they are carrying out a “precise assessment of the needs on the ground,” but in some of the towns that EL PAÍS has been able to access, the presence of emergency teams or firefighters has not been observed, nor has there been any There was a deployment of security forces in rescue tasks. In one of the points most affected by the earthquake, the town of Mulai Brahim, some 50 kilometers from Marrakech, the teams worked 24 hours after the catastrophe. On Monday morning, however, they had already left, despite complaints from neighbors about the disappearance of relatives under the rubble.
The Ministry of the Interior, almost the only voice that is heard from the Moroccan State, specified that since Sunday the offers of support made by four “friendly countries” have been responded favorably: two in Europe (Spain and the United Kingdom). and two others in the Arab world (United Arab Emirates and Qatar). The Military Emergency Unit (UME) of Spain had already been deployed this Monday around the city of Amizmz (45 kilometers south of Marrakech), specifically in the village of Anugal, where by mid-afternoon it was already operational.
The authorities have hinted that, once the existing needs have been analyzed, the list of countries authorized to send teams to the field may be expanded. “Morocco welcomes all solidarity initiatives from all over the world,” stated the statement from the Ministry of the Interior before recalling that “King Mohamed VI expressed (on Saturday) the sincere gratitude of the Kingdom (…) for the solidarity with the Moroccan people in these difficult times.”
Countries such as France, the United States, India and Israel have so far seen their collaboration offers vetoed. While in the most affected towns, residents continue to demand blankets and tents to combat the cold of the night in the Atlas Mountains and local rescue teams withdraw, the Government insists that the needs of the victims are being met. “From the first moments of the devastating earthquake, following the king’s instructions, all civil and military authorities, and medical services have worked on rescue tasks,” government spokesman Mustafá Baitas said on Monday night.
France – which is, along with Spain, the former administrative power of a protectorate in Morocco – has not yet been able to send the teams of rescuers that have been ready to leave since the weekend. Even neighboring Algeria, a country that broke diplomatic relations two years ago with Rabat, has also made a solidarity offer to send its rescuers to the Atlas region.
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Macron: “It will be deployed the second it is requested”
The French Government, three days after the earthquake in Morocco, insisted on Monday that all French aid for the rescue is ready, but Rabat has not yet given the green light, nor has it done so for dozens of other countries willing to contribute. . “In the very second that this help is requested, it will be deployed,” Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday. The president specified that “it is the Moroccan authorities who must decide, based on evaluation on the ground, to do it in good order, because this is not done in a dispersed order, and they are right to organize everything.”
The delay in accepting international aid – except from four countries – has raised questions in France, a country where 840,000 people born in Morocco live and millions of people linked to this country if the children and grandchildren of immigrants are counted. About 80,000 French citizens live in Morocco. Four French people died in the earthquake and 15 were injured, according to the provisional toll.
The earthquake occurs in a context of diplomatic tensions between France and Morocco, tensions that, according to former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, may have influenced “directly or indirectly” the blocking of French aid. In an interview with the France Info radio network, Villepin recalled four episodes that, in recent years, have clouded the relationship: suspicions of Moroccan espionage with the Pegasus program, the decision in Paris to reduce visas for Moroccans, the approach from Paris to Algeria and Macron’s resistance to fully assuming Rabat’s position on Western Sahara.
“We must overcome the sensitivities they may express,” Villepin recommended. “We could perfectly transit our aid through the European Union,” he added.
In this controversy, reciprocal sensitivities are expressed: in France, a former tutelary power, for not being in the front row of the rescue and seeing how other countries pass by. In Morocco, due to the misgivings that any French action provokes and the grievances accumulated over the years.
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna tried on Monday to downplay the controversy. “You don’t have to present things like that, it’s a dispute that has no place,” she told BFM-TV. “Morocco is a sovereign country, and only it can determine the needs and the rhythms.” Colonna announced a financial aid of five million euros for the NGOs that are on the ground.
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