Disasters & Accidents

Morocco rejects humanitarian aid from UN, France and Algeria

United Nations, Sept. 12 (EFE).- Offers of humanitarian aid to Morocco have become a controversial issue: so far, Rabat has accepted aid from Spain, the United Kingdom, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, but has rejected that of the UN, neighboring Algeria, with which it has broken diplomatic relations, and France, with which it has experienced several months of diplomatic frostiness.

The Moroccan government has said that it has so far accepted aid from “friendly countries” after “a thorough evaluation of the needs and aware that uncoordinated aid would be counterproductive.”

It has not explained why the UN, the organization with the world’s greatest experience in responding to natural disasters, has been kept waiting for a concrete response as the days pass and the chances of finding survivors dwindle.

The UN has not received any official request for assistance from the Moroccan government, the secretary-general’s spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said Tuesday during a press conference.

“It is the sovereign decision of any country to decide how it moves forward on assistance depending on its own capacity,” Dujarric said when asked if this preference for aid from some countries over others was a “political rather than practical” decision.

Meanwhile, the Algerian Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday that Morocco had rejected its offer of humanitarian aid.

On Monday, the Algerian authorities said they would send three large military planes and a Civil Protection and Red Crescent team of 93 specialized rescuers, pending Rabat’s approval.

According to images broadcast live on state television, the rescue teams were ready to take off from the Bufarik military airport, 40 kilometers from the capital, but the Moroccan Foreign Ministry “belatedly” informed the Algerian side that his country “did not need help”.

Algeria and Morocco, whose land borders have been closed since 1994, have had a difficult diplomatic relationship for decades over the underlying issue of Western Sahara. In the summer of 2021, Algiers broke off diplomatic relations with Rabat and closed its airspace, although it reopened it on Saturday to allow humanitarian flights to and from its neighbor.

For its part, France is keen to deny any friction with Morocco. The spokeswoman for the French Foreign Ministry insisted on Tuesday that “there is no reason for controversy” on this issue, when asked at her weekly press briefing about Morocco’s refusal of France’s help.

The spokeswoman noted the “solidarity” expressed in France, home to a large Moroccan community, since the earthquake was first reported, and stressed that this response came from “the whole of French society”.

In the absence of an official rescue operation, the head of French diplomacy, Catherine Colonna, announced on Monday the allocation of 5 million euros to French and international NGOs already working on the ground.

The estrangement between the former colonial power and Morocco is illustrated by the fact that Morocco has not had an ambassador in France since February and that the French authorities have stopped talking about a visit by Macron to the Alawi kingdom, which should have taken place at the beginning of 2023. EFE


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