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Double Disaster: Morocco Shaken by Earthquake While Libya Grapples with Devastating Flood

"Nature's Wrath Unleashed: A Tale of Resilience and Recovery in North Africa"

By: Beth Templeton

On Friday the 8th of September Morocco was hit with its strongest earthquake since the 1960s. Two weeks on, the search for survivors continues with an estimated 3000 killed, and 300,000 people affected.

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The earthquake struck the Al Haouz province, however due to the strength of it, many towns surrounding the epicentre were destroyed. In Marrakesh, the popular tourist and economic hub, buildings have collapsed and people have

evacuated their houses, and are now living in the street. This disaster has caused widespread damage, due to the remote location of some of the provinces in the Atlas Mountains, they are hard to reach and the extent of damage is still unsure. Furthermore, the earthquake has affected access to shelter, safe

water and food.

Currently Moroccan Red Crescent teams are supporting the search for survivors as well as providing emergency medical care, in attempt to try minimise the long-term damage caused by this natural disaster. In addition, Caroline Holt, the Global Director of Operations for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies has highlighted the importance of providing safe water for the citizens stating.

“There’s the need to provide people with safe water. We need to avoid a disaster within a disaster.”

Despite the response from international aid worldwide, the Moroccan government have come subject to criticism due to not allowing more countries in to provide aid. The US, Tunisia, Turkey, Taiwan and France have all been refused entry to provide search and rescue teams. While the reason for this is unclear, the French President, Emmanuel Macron has criticised the decision, stating the acceptance of international aid in Morocco is “in a manner entirely befitting their sovereignty”.

Three days later, just 2000km away, Libya was hit with intense flooding which resulted in a collapse of two dams. These dams unleashed mud and water which has destroyed large parts of Derna, situated in the Eastern Region of Libya. The Eastern region is controlled by Gen Khalifa Haftar of the Libyan National Army, known as a ‘Rival Warlord’ to the Libyan Government. As a result of this the extent of damage to the communities and the number of survivors is unclear, due to the limited access for aid agencies and foreign press. The Libyan Red Crescent has estimated 11,000 people have died.

Following the worst natural disaster in Libya’s history, there has been mounting pressure from Libyan authorities to investigate whether human failure has resulted in the collapse of the Dams.

The result of the Libyan flood has exposed the drastic impact that climate change is having on countries around the globe and the negligence from Governments globally to tackle the life-threatening consequences. In Libya, Asmahan Balauon who is a member of Libya’s eastern-based parliament, requested that there should be a climate change committee, to tackle the issues the country faces with regards to the changing climate. The MP was told there would be a date set to discuss this, however there was nothing set and before the issues were sorted – the floods hit. This reflects the overwhelming narrative currently that there is not an urgency when discussing climate change. Scientists who work with the World Weather Attribution have recognised the direct connection with the heavy rainfall that caused the floods in Libya. Going forward, Libya and countries globally will continue to feel the direct impact, particularly to their infrastructure, if legislation and policy do not change to accommodate to the changes due to climate change.


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