Race against time in Morocco: how relief is organized after such an earthquake

Race against time in Morocco: how relief is organized after such an earthquake

Two days after the earthquake currently responsible for 2,500 deaths in Morocco, international aid is being organized to save as many survivors as possible. How and with what priorities? Helena Ranchal, director of international operations at Médecins du Monde responded to us.

What are the main needs in Morocco today?

Helena Ranchal There are several parallel needs. The first 48-72 hours are always the most important for finding people alive. It is within this time frame that the teams on site can hope to pull people out of the rubble. And the first need for people discharged is of course transport to hospitals, because we immediately think of trauma.

But that’s not all: there are also people who have lost everything who are on the street, who may need care but also to be supplied even if only with water and food.

The psychological, traumatic aspect is also very present because in an earthquake of this magnitude there are inevitably aftershocks that will follow.

Finally, despite everything, life must continue, and this means that emergency surgeries and births planned outside of an earthquake must also take place in an unprecedented context. However, health services are overloaded, and let’s not forget that healthcare workers can also be affected. The needs are therefore enormous.”

To date, aid from Europe has not yet been accepted. How do you organize yourself?

“We must distinguish two things: the diplomatic channel, which includes the decisions and funds of the French government, and NGOs like Médecins du Monde, which are therefore non-governmental organizations which remain in control of their decisions. Médecins du Monde is present at Morocco in Rabat where the NGO has been a partner of civil society for many years. In the event of a disaster, we are able to deploy stocks and personnel within 24 hours. So we are already at work.”

Concretely, what are the actions carried out today?

For the teams, things are nevertheless difficult 48 hours before the earthquake, because many roads to reach the affected places, particularly in the mountains, are still impassable. It is therefore the army and civil society which take charge of this. Fortunately, in the face of such events, strong solidarity is being established, even without an international appeal. We are therefore in the process of assessing all the needs of all sectors to know where we can have added value as soon as we have access to these areas. On site, coordination between NGOs remains the key to photographing the entire area, the needs and determining who is doing what… Here is where we are at the moment“.