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How to help those affected by the Morocco earthquake and Libya flood

by Glenn Gamboa, The Associated Press | September 13, 2023 at 12:03 a.m.
Moroccan and Spanish emergency units discuss plans at a military camp in the town of Amizmiz, near Marrakech, Morocco, Monday, Sept. 11, 2023. Rescue crews expanded their efforts on Monday as the earthquake's death toll continued to climb to more than 2,400 and displaced people worried about where to find shelter. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)

NEW YORK -- International aid groups have mobilized in Morocco, where a 6.8 magnitude earthquake Friday night has killed 2,681 and injured more than 2,500, and Libya, where thousands are reported dead and more than 10,000 still missing from weekend flooding. Donors, both big and small, are also mobilizing to support those relief efforts.

Experts say the most direct way to provide aid to those affected in both countries is to donate to organizations that already have operations on the ground in those countries.

In Morocco, where the earthquake was centered in the Atlas Mountains, that takes on additional importance because so far the Moroccan government has accepted governmental aid from only four nations -- Spain, Qatar, Britain and the United Arab Emirates -- as it tries to avoid a "counterproductive" lack of coordination.

In Libya, where Mediterranean storm Daniel dumped nearly 16 inches of rain on Eastern Libya and caused two dams near the city of Derna to fail, many worry the fact that the country has two governments supported by different countries may slow rescue and recovery efforts.

"We are just seeing the scale and severity of disasters from natural hazards increasing and that is putting a drain on resources -- both financial and human resources -- and also, I'll be honest, empathy," said Patricia McIlreavy, CEO of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. "When you talk about what you can do, my No. 1 thing is: Remember. Keep them in your thoughts and look for ways to help them."

Recovery from these events could take years, McIlreavy said and encouraged people to consider longer-term, unrestricted giving rather than rushing to give immediately when conditions are still rapidly changing.

Here are some groups who have responded and are looking for additional support:

-- The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) quickly responded to both disasters. It released $1.1 million from its Disaster Response Emergency Fund to support Moroccan Red Crescent relief efforts in the country and on Tuesday launched an appeal to raise $112 million more. "We expect this initial release of money to make a difference on the ground," said Dr. Hossam Elsharkawi, IFRC's regional director of Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement. "It will be used to buy essential supplies locally in Morocco. The people in the Moroccan Red Crescent know their communities best, and know best what is needed." Tamer Ramadan, Libya envoy for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told a U.N. briefing in Geneva that the situation in Libya was "as devastating as the situation in Morocco."

-- World Central Kitchen is teaming with Moroccan volunteers to provide food and water in the remote areas hardest hit by the earthquake. However, World Central Kitchen founder Jose Andres said the group's helicopters are doing double duty, dropping off supplies in those areas and evacuating injured people on their return trips.

-- Doctors Without Borders has sent 10 staff members to Morocco to assess what the local hospital needs are and how the organization can support the Moroccan government with supplies or logistics. Though Doctors Without Borders announced plans to end medical activities in Tripoli last month, it continues to provide medical care and humanitarian assistance in other parts of the country.

-- CARE, which has been working in Morocco since 2008 to help people get access to basic services, has launched the Morocco Earthquake Emergency Fund, which it says will prioritize providing women and girls, youth, and disadvantaged groups food and shelter.

-- GlobalGiving's Morocco Earthquake Relief Fund had raised nearly $560,000 by Tuesday afternoon to provide food, water and shelter to those who have lost their homes in the earthquake, as well as supporting long-term recovery efforts.

-- Islamic Relief has already pledged 100,000 British pounds ($125,000) for Libya relief efforts and has launched the Libya Floods Emergency Appeal to raise more funds to give local humanitarian organizations to use for affected communities.

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