How to Help Survivors of the Morocco Earthquake Right Now
It is the strongest earthquake to hit the region in more than 100 years.
A 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains on September 8. The area is about 45 miles southwest of Marrakesh, Morocco, according to Reuters. and the earthquake is the largest that has hit the area in the last 100 years, as well as the deadliest since 1960. The government has reported a death toll of more than 2,681 people as of September 11, and more than 2,500 people injured. Government officials have announced that the death toll is expected to rise as search and rescue efforts continue.
The quake has devastated Marrakesh where much of the Medina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been decimated. The worst hit areas are more isolated in the High Atlas Mountains. Reuters reported that some of the buildings in the area, which were traditional mud brick houses, completely collapsed due to the quake. One rescuer described the destruction as "absolute," and the Moroccan government has used helicopters to drop in supplies in areas that are still difficult to reach by land.
CNN reports that the most impacted area is the Al Haouz province. At least 1,500 people in the area have died. Located at the foot of the High Atlas Mountains, it is another area with towns that are hard to reach for rescuers.
In the days following the quake financial aid has come from France, a 56-soldier search and rescue team has come from Spain, and 60 search and rescue specialists have come from the UK. Algeria, which currently does not have diplomatic ties with Morocco, opened its airspace for humanitarian and medical transports. The US, China, and the United Nations have all issued pledges of support.
Turkey, which is still recovering from a devastating earthquake earlier this year, announced that 265 personnel and 1,000 tents will be sent to Morocco. It is important to note that according to the New York Times, Morocco has only formally requested assistance from Spain, the United Kingdom, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Right now, the primary focus is searching for survivors among the rubble. Below are ways to donate to support survivors and recovery efforts.
"Earthquake survivors often require medical care such as surgery or dialysis, which can be a challenge when local health systems are affected by a disaster," Doctors Without Borders executive director Avril Benoît said in a statement to NBC.
Where to donate
Banque Alimentaire du Maroc (Morocco Food Bank)
This nonprofit was founded in 2002 and based out of Casablanca, Morocco, but has worked across the entire country to alleviate food insecurity. The organization is seeking donations to support immediate efforts to assist survivors of the earthquakes., and you can make them through the food bank's website.
Doctors Without Borders
This organization is well known for providing on the ground aid in the wake of natural disasters. "Doctors Without Borders has mobilized teams to assess needs in this region, sending more than 10 medical and logistical staff to explore areas in the south of Marrakesh. Our teams are working with local authorities and communities on how we can best support them," the organization's website states. You can donate to their efforts here.
Islamic Relief USA
This nonprofit is raising funds to support the most urgent needs in the wake of the quake, including food, shelter, and healthcare. "Islamic Relief staff are in Morocco, now assessing the most critical needs and identifying local humanitarian organizations to work with to deliver vital aid," the website states. You can donate here.
International Medical Corps
This nonprofit is collecting donations for its on-the-ground work in Morocco. "International Medical Corps is in communication with the World Health Organization and other partners and is deploying an Advance Emergency Medical Team and more to support urgent relief and recovery needs," the website states. You can donate here.
This fund will be distributed directly to organizations on the ground who are providing support for survivors and recovery efforts. "All donations to this fund will support Morocco earthquake relief and recovery efforts," the fund site states. "Initially, the fund will help meet survivors' immediate needs for food, fuel, clean water, medicine, and shelter. The fund will then transition to focus on recovery efforts led by local, vetted organizations in the impacted areas to restore damaged homes, rebuild infrastructure, and more as needs evolve." You can learn more about the fund, where money will be distributed, and donate here.
For a list of verified GoFundMe accounts to donate to you can head to the GoFundMe page, where a number of individual funds have been started. "Our Trust & Safety team has verified the fundraisers on this centralized hub and will continue to add verified fundraisers to it as more become available," the site states. You can learn more about the fundraisers and donate to funds here.
Traveling to Morocco right now
For anyone planning on traveling to Morocco. experts warn that aftershocks are likely to continue in and around the original quake site. While aftershocks are smaller, they can still be deadly and cause further damage, according to the US Geological Society. Beyond the immediate dangers of the quakes, the infrastructure of the High Atlas Mountains area where the earthquake hit has been largely incapacitated and any remaining services will be focused on survivors, recovery, and body retrieval efforts.
The Marrakesh airport is still open, and the city is still in various stages of recovery. Other parts of the country outside of the High Atlas Mountains region have not been directly impacted by the earthquake. If you have booked travel, you should reach out to those agencies that you booked with about next steps. Some agencies based in Morocco are encouraging tourists to continue visiting.
"The earthquake struck during one of the busiest months for tourism, and many of our tour leaders and partners are concerned that it will deter people from visiting," said Zina Bencheikh, Intrepid Travel's Managing Director EMEA, told Travel Pulse. "Our teams and suppliers say the best thing people can do to support local communities is to continue to travel to Morocco while avoiding the most impacted areas. The country will need tourism more than ever as it rebuilds."
When traveling to the country, you should plan on spending money with local tour operators and vendors.
"We encourage people from around the globe to visit this coming fall—it will show a great support to the local community and will uplift the spirits and help the resilient Moroccan society get back on its feet quickly," Bilal El Hammoumy, co-founder of tour operator Inclusive Morocco, told CNN.