Dutch urged not to go to Morocco earthquake zone; Aid initiatives gaining steam

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged Netherlands residents against visiting the earthquake zone in Morocco. The Ministry specifically mentioned the towns of Imlil, Ouirgane, and Asni, located in the Atlas Mountains, close to the epicenter. “The situation there is still very unclear, and emergency services must be able to do their work unhindered,” the Ministry said.

The Ministry also warned of aftershocks and unstable telephone and internet traffic. Netherlands residents in the region must keep a close eye on official news reports and follow the local authorities’ instructions, the Ministry said.

Days after the devastating earthquake in Morocco, many aid initiatives are already underway. Several organizations in the Netherlands have started fundraising campaigns or are working out the best way to provide aid to the earthquake area. The death toll has risen to at least 2,122 people, according to the Moroccan Interior Ministry.

The Islamic Foundation Netherlands (ISN), Islamic Relief Netherlands, and the International Humanitarian Aid Organization (IHHN) have all added a donate button to their websites. ISN called on the Muslim community to support the campaign “to help heal the wounds of this grief.” IHHN said that a team from the organization will travel to the earthquake area as soon as possible to provide emergency assistance on site.

The Partnership for Moroccan Dutch (SMN) held a meeting on Sunday about the relief efforts. SMN chairman Bouchaib Saadane said it was a “very constructive” meeting. He said a team has been formed to map out campaigns and collections. The SMN will also inventory what exactly is needed and what assistance the Moroccan authorities will allow.

The Partnership of Islamic Organizations in the Haaglanden Region (SIORH) said it is committed to helping with reconstruction. “It is difficult to determine what is needed in acute emergencies. We want to focus, in particular, on what needs to be done next. Longer-term help is essential,” said chairman Abdelsadek Maas. SIORH wants to work with organizations that are already active in the region. “We want our aid to actually reach the people it is intended for.”

Aid organizations are doing their best, said the chairman of MKB-Amsterdam, Achmed Baadoud. He and other Moroccan Dutch people were often approached by aid organizations in recent days looking for contacts, he said. “I am proud that I can offer help to my homeland, Morocco, from my mother country, the Netherlands,” said Baadoud. In Amsterdam, social and religious organizations and entrepreneurs have joined forces. “You notice that people are eager to help, including Dutch people.”

Doctors Without Borders has had several emergency response teams on site since Saturday. On Sunday, they were “taking stock of where the medical need is the greatest,” a spokesperson explained.

Reporting by ANP

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