HomeTop StoriesThe authorities accept only limited international aid

The authorities accept only limited international aid

Almost as soon as news broke of Friday’s earthquake in Morocco, offers of help poured in from around the world. But the country has so far been selective in what it has accepted.

An Interior Ministry statement on Sunday said Morocco had “responded at this specific stage to offers of support from the friendly countries: Spain, Qatar, Great Britain and the United Arab Emirates.”

Spain has sent a search and rescue unit with sniffer dogs and Britain has deployed a similar team, but questions have been raised about why Morocco has been slow to accept other offers.

French aid is ready, but the head of a rescue organization, Secouristes sans Frontieres, said his aid workers had not received the green light from the Moroccan government, AFP news agency reported.

Algeria, which cut diplomatic ties with its North African neighbor two years ago, said it could send 80 specialized rescue workers from its civil protection force.

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There have also been offers from the US, Tunisia, Turkey and Taiwan, among others.

But the decision about what aid to welcome has become entangled in questions of sovereignty and geopolitics.

For example, there are tense relations between France and Morocco, partly due to French President Emmanuel Macron’s attempts to get closer to Algeria.

But French authorities have tried to play down any idea that they had been rejected.

“This is a misplaced controversy,” Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

“We are ready to help Morocco. It is a sovereign Moroccan decision and it is up to them to decide,” she said.

Morocco says it wants to maintain control and does not want to risk creating a potentially chaotic situation with dozens of countries and organizations coming in to help.

“A lack of coordination in such cases would be counterproductive,” authorities there say.

But government critic and activist Maati Mounjib has said this is the wrong response when help is urgently needed, especially in more remote areas.

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‘I think it’s really a mistake [to insist on] sovereignty and national pride. This is not the time to refuse, because the help is essential; even developed countries accept outside aid [in disasters],” he told the BBC program Newsday.

Hossam Elsharkawi, the regional director for the Middle East and North Africa of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), was reluctant to criticize Moroccan authorities at this difficult time, but argued that more outside help would inevitably be needed.

The organization donates money to the local Red Crescent chapter, but the IFRC also has specialized teams on standby, ready to go into the country.

‘We have thirty years of experience with these types of scenarios, we know the playbook – they will need international help.

“The local response has done a fantastic job so far, but on the third day they are exhausted and will need extra help,” Mr Elsharkawi said.

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