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Morocco Reluctant To Accept Aid

Moroccan rescuers carry a body out of the rubble in Talat N'Yacoub village of al-Haouz province in earthquake-hit Morocco on September 11, 2023.

WASHINGTON — Governments around the world have offered technical experts and humanitarian aid to Morocco after Friday’s 6.8 magnitude earthquake, which has killed more than 2,900 people and left tens of thousands displaced, but the government has appeared reluctant to embrace all assistance.

Morocco has so far accepted support from only a handful of countries — including Spain, Britain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The United States, France, Germany, Israel and Italy offered humanitarian and technical assistance within hours of Friday’s devastating quake, most are still on a response.

"We await word from the Moroccan government to find out how we can help, where we can help," said U.S. Secretary Antony Blinken to CNN on Sunday.

Simon Martin, the British ambassador to Morocco, said 60 UK search-and-rescue experts and four search dogs arrived in the country over the weekend to help with Moroccan-led operations.

British correspondent Martin Jay, editor in chief of the online media outlet, who lives in the town of Amizmiz at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, said Morocco should accept all the help it can get.

Jay says there is currently not enough aid. "We need hundreds of dogs, and we need to be coordinated,” Jay told VOA.

Jay said he thinks it is no longer a rescue operation.

"The state and the elite have more or less given up on rescuing people, it’s now a recovery mission for bodies."

Many Moroccans are driving truck loads of food and other supplies to the Atlas Mountains.

High Atlas Foundation, an aid group that provides hundreds of small fruit trees each year to mountain residents for sustenance and wage earning, has been using its trucks to deliver food, tents, and flashlights from Marrakesh to the people of the Atlas Mountains.

"It’s amazing how much energy is here, how much material is being moved up, that’s what I’m seeing, a lot of trucks being loaded to be shipped to the High Atlas people," foundation president Yossef Ben-Meir told VOA.

Elisabeth Myers, a North Africa political analyst and consultant who lives in Marrakesh, said people from the city and those from all over the country are jumping in their vehicles, loading them up with supplies, and driving up to the Atlas Mountains.

“Individuals are actually doing a lot of individual efforts to mobilize relief supplies, tents,” Myers told VOA. She noted the weather recently turned cool at night after “an incredibly hot summer,” so people are in need of blankets.

“The real danger is going to happen in another month or two when the weather gets cold, and we still are going to have people who will be homeless, because there is literally nowhere for them to go.”

The Moroccan government said Tuesday most of the dead were “buried” under the rubble of destroyed buildings.

The French news agency, AFP, reports that the latest official toll on Tuesday evening included at least 2,901 dead and 5,530 injured. It says 100 peopled died in the mountain village of Douzrou, 80 kilometers southwest of Marrakech.

Jay believes the death toll is far higher.

“I’m sure in the next few weeks we will get to 10-15,000, easily, easily,” he said.