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Morocco earthquake: Why did Rabat refuse to help Algeria and did not respond to France’s offer? – . .

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Children receiving psychological help at a military field hospital in the Moroccan city of Asni

  • Author, Ibrahim Shams
  • Role, . . – Beirut

While Morocco is in a race against time to save lives after… The devastating earthquakePolitics ran into news about the humanitarian catastrophe, with Rabat accepting aid from countries but not others.

Among the dozens of countries that offered assistance, Morocco accepted the offers of Qatar, the Emirates, Spain, and Britain, which sent rescue teams, ambulances, food supplies, and shelter supplies to those affected.

However, the Kingdom’s announcement of its “no need” for the humanitarian aid provided by Algeria, and its failure to request assistance from France, which expressed its willingness to do so, ignited a debate about the political background that pushed Morocco to this decision, knowing that its relationship with both countries has been characterized by estrangement and estrangement for two years.

This controversy brought to mind the back and forth regarding aid and relief operations as a result of the earthquake that struck southern Turkey and northern Syria at the beginning of this year.

The Syrian government prevented basic aid such as food, medical supplies, and tents from entering the Kurdish-majority neighborhoods in the city of Aleppo. Armed opposition groups backed by Turkey also prevented aid from entering Afrin, according to Amnesty International.

The Syrian Red Crescent then called for the necessity of “lifting the siege and economic sanctions imposed on Syria to confront the repercussions of the devastating earthquake.”

Non-binding coordination agreements

In light of this scene, the question arises about the frameworks regulating relief measures when a natural disaster strikes a country, in the absence of binding laws.

Professor of International Humanitarian Law at the Lebanese University, Dr. Dima Moghadam, told . ., “Most agreements are bilateral, regional, limited, and do not oblige the parties to accept aid and work procedures during disasters. Rather, they coordinate action in the event they occur.”

She explains: “The concerned state has the full right to refuse any assistance, but it is not an absolute right, especially since the concept of sovereignty has two parts: the rights part and the duties part. Therefore, in order for the rejection not to be arbitrary, the state must be able to respond, or receive sufficient aid.” “It allows it to withhold more aid.”

There are two multilateral agreements related to the issue of disaster relief. The first is the 1986 Convention on Assistance in the Event of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency, and the second is the 1998 Tampere Convention on the Provision of Telecommunications Resources to Mitigate the Effects of Disasters.

In addition to this, there are many agreements, including those regulating the return of property to its owners and assistance to internally displaced persons after disasters occur.

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Members and aid of the Qatari International Search and Rescue Group on their way to Morocco by air

Countries usually open their airspace to send aid to a stricken country. There is one law that regulates the work of international civil aviation, which is the Chicago Convention of 1944, which prohibits forcing an aircraft to land or preventing its take-off.

Although the 2005 Chicago Convention stipulates that signatory countries must facilitate the entry of aircraft transporting relief goods on behalf of international organizations recognized by the United Nations, and take all necessary measures to ensure their safe operation, “no country can be obliged to open its airspace to air aid convoys from Without its consent, even to cross to help another country,” according to Moghadam.

But the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has developed a disaster law, which is a set of legal tools that provide guidance on providing assistance in disaster situations, in addition to a code of conduct that includes a basic clause: providing unconditional humanitarian aid to stricken countries. With disasters, without discrimination and politicization.

However, Moghaddam explains, “a small number of countries adopted this legislation and turned it into domestic legislation to respond to disasters, and there was not much international interest in this matter for fear of diminishing the sovereignty of states.”

How are relief organizations responding?

The Federation recently launched an emergency appeal seeking to raise 100 million Swiss francs to expand the relief efforts of the Moroccan Red Crescent.

Mai Al Sayegh, media officer at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Middle East and North Africa, explains how the organization works in the event of a natural disaster.

She says: “We contacted the Red Crescent in Morocco, then assessed their initial field needs. We allocated an amount of approximately one million Swiss francs to them to ensure the continuity of their services on the ground and provide first aid to people. Then, if the needs on the ground were very great, we would launch an emergency call.”

She adds that after the initial response, “We are looking for Cross and Red Crescent societies in the world that are able to provide assistance to the societies in the affected country. For example, in the earthquake in Syria and Turkey, we searched for those who could help the Syrian Red Crescent and coordinated the support. They needed search and rescue teams, but in Morocco.” “In need of shelter, food, clean water and hygiene equipment.”

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Red Crescent volunteers distribute mattresses to local residents in Amizmiz, south of Marrakesh

Residents of remote villages in the High Atlas Mountains were stranded after the earthquake that struck their areas, forcing them to dig by hand in search of survivors.

Al-Sayegh says that the most prominent obstacle is “the earthquake occurring in a very rugged mountainous area, which delayed search and rescue operations.”

Al Haouz province is about 40 kilometers away from the city of Marrakesh, “and from the central administration in Rabat, which makes the response process difficult, because the number of volunteers in the capital is greater than in the remote areas,” Al-Sayegh noted.

Political significance

This difficult field situation raised questions about Morocco’s decision to receive aid from only four countries, and raised the ire of the French media.

Historian Pierre Vermeerin told Agence France-Presse that the decision is a “clear political sign” of the apathy between the two countries. He added that “the French are accustomed to dealing with Morocco,” referring to the “language factor.”

“It is clearly easier for the French than the British to go to work in Morocco or even the Spaniards for the south,” he said.

Morocco’s main complaint against France is that it does not catch up with the United States and Israel, which recognized the “Moroccanism” of Western Sahara, 80 percent of which Rabat controls.

Despite this, French President Emmanuel Macron denounced the ongoing controversy, and said, “I would like all the debates that divide and complicate matters at this very tragic time to remain silent, out of respect for everyone.”

Paris announced the provision of five million euros in aid to non-governmental organizations present “on the ground” in Morocco and contributing to relief efforts.

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Boxes of humanitarian aid were prepared to be sent from Algeria to Morocco

The field is the referee

Media personality and political science researcher Saeeda Al-Kamil told . . that Morocco received an offer from dozens of countries, including France, Algeria and Tunisia, as well as the United States, which has close relations with Morocco. Despite this, the latter did not deal with the matter sensitively. The countries proposed providing aid. “I left the opportunity for the Moroccan authorities to decide on the matter, because it remains a sovereign decision.”

She adds: “I do not think at all that the matter could have negative effects on rescue operations, because the four countries that are coordinating with the Moroccan authorities have experience and capabilities.”

Moroccan official television had reported that “the Moroccan authorities conducted a careful assessment of the needs in the field, taking into account that lack of coordination in such cases will lead to adverse results.”

Researcher and political analyst Hassan Qartit told . ., “Morocco dealt positively with all international offers, but setting priorities at the field level is the basic criterion in dealing with any international offers.”

He adds: “Even inside Morocco, the state demands that all convoys coordinate in order to more effectively manage aid, because the priority is to open rugged corridors and any unorganized aid and convoys will affect the movement of ambulances.”

As for Algeria, which severed relations with Morocco, accusing it of “carrying out hostile actions” and spying on its officials, Qartit says, “Algeria’s opening of airspace is a positive thing, but with regard to aid, what applies to all countries applies to Algeria, meaning that the final decision is up to the authorities.” Moroccan.

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