What is delaying aid after natural disasters in Morocco and Libya? Policy

by MMC
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The Interior Ministry on Sunday sought to justify its reluctance to welcome aid, saying a “lack of coordination would lead to counterproductive results”.

Morocco’s mud-brick housing makes it harder to find earthquake survivors

But observers point out that geopolitics appears to be his real concern.

Algeria, which broke ties with Morocco two years ago over questions of sovereignty in Western Sahara, opened its airspace to facilitate access for humanitarian flights and dispatched 80 rescuers to help. After two days of silence, Morocco declared on Tuesday that it did not need help from its neighbor, according to the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

This attitude reflects the views of King Mohammed VI, who “made it clear that Western Sahara was the prism through which Morocco would view any external engagement,” said Geoff Porter, president of North Africa Risk Consulting and expert on the Western Sahara region. Maghreb.

“So offers of aid are still seen as foreign policy tools,” Porter said. “This means that aid and relief cannot be accepted from countries that do not unequivocally recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara. »

This could explain why Germany had to withdraw a team of 50 people from its Technical Relief Agency that had assembled at Cologne airport to travel to Morocco.

“It is incomprehensible that Rabat has so far renounced German aid,” said Carl-Julius Cronenberg, chairman of the German Parliament’s Maghreb group, in a statement to German newspaper Tageespiegel.

Floods caused by a massive Mediterranean storm have destroyed dams and swept away buildings in Derna, Libya. Photo: AP

“The current situation should not be due to misunderstood national pride. »

France, which colonized Morocco until 1956 – and saw relations cool after disagreements over visa and immigration issues as well as France’s opening to Algeria – was also pushed back, a team from the French humanitarian organization Secours sans frontières having been unable to enter the country.

“Unfortunately, we still do not have the green light from the Moroccan government,” Arnaud Fraisse, the group’s founder, said on Sunday in a statement to the France Inter channel.

In the absence of the authorities, Moroccan citizens offer their help as the death toll exceeds 2,800

The French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna, minimized any rancor between the two countries, saying on Monday in an interview on BFM television that it was only a “misplaced controversy”.

In Morocco, the response, however troubled, is at least overseen by a stable government.

Libya has experienced more than a decade of internecine conflict that has left the country with two rival governments, one in the capital, Tripoli, and the other controlling the east of the country, based in Benghazi.

Satellite photos show before and after flooding in Derna, Libya. Photo: Planet Labs via Reuters

It was to the east that the coastal town of Derna was largely destroyed after incessant rains burst nearby dams, triggering floods that swept away homes, cars, residents and entire neighborhoods. Authorities say at least a quarter of the city no longer exists.

Eastern-based administration officials rushed to declare a response. Khalifa Hifter, the military strongman who supports the eastern-based administration, urged Libya’s central bank to provide support.

“We have asked the government to form a specialized committee to assess the damage, immediately begin the reconstruction of roads to facilitate transportation, restore electricity and take all immediate and necessary measures,” Hifter said in a televised statement.

Meanwhile, Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, the prime minister of the Tripoli government, also intervened, saying the country was evaluating offers of help from the international community.

“There have been multiple offers of assistance and we will only accept assistance that is necessary,” he said.

Hisham Abu Shkeiwat, a minister in the eastern government, said the massive number of bodies strewn in the streets and on the coast made the city virtually uninhabitable.

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Libya floods: Around 10,000 missing after catastrophic flooding kills at least 2,000

Libya floods: Around 10,000 missing after catastrophic flooding kills at least 2,000

Local activists compiled lists of the dead, posting hastily scribbled notices on Facebook and other platforms. And as a sign of solidarity, the Tripoli government sent humanitarian convoys and planes carrying first aid and body bags.

But eastern administration officials denied the existence of direct contacts with the government in Tripoli. “If there have been contacts, I haven’t heard about them,” Ahmed Mismari, a spokesman for the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army, the force that controls the eastern region, said in a television interview, adding that this was no longer the case. time for political maneuvering.

In the meantime, some international aid has started to arrive, including 168 rescuers, two search and rescue vehicles and two rescue boats arriving from Turkey, which will also send tents, blankets, food and other supplies . Italy is also sending civil defense teams.

Egypt sent a military delegation with medical equipment. The Emirates, Qatar, Iran and Algeria said they had sent aid. The US State Department, for its part, said it was coordinating with “UN partners and Libyan authorities on how we can contribute to ongoing relief efforts”.

In his interview, Mismari said the eastern government was dealing directly with Egypt, the Emirates and Turkey. Turkey has long supported the government in Tripoli, providing military assistance that saved it from Hifter’s assault in 2019. But since the fighting ended, Ankara has made inroads in the east.

In such a divided nation, coordination problems will inevitably arise, said Tim Eaton, a researcher on Libya at the Chatham House think tank in London.

“There are 140 state institutions split between Eastern and Western governments, so the logistics of a response are horrendous,” he said.

That means, said Anas Gomati, director of the Sadeq Institute, a Tripoli think tank, that “we don’t know what is needed.”

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