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Houses in ruins in Morocco

Houses in ruins, with winter approaching

Fatima* was elsewhere in Morocco when the massive earthquake of September 8 struck her village. “This was my in-laws' house,” she says, standing on top of a pile of stones. “When I came home, all my loved ones were here under the rubble.”

ZOA provides temporary accommodation in Morocco

‘Shelter is urgently needed’

Survivors of the recent earthquake in Morocco are in desperate need of shelter, says Else Lotte Faasse of ZOA's Disaster Response Team. “Winter is fast approaching.” ZOA provides temporary accomodation in Morocco, together with a partner organisation.

Fatima* is one of the many people in urgent need of good shelter. She was elsewhere in Morocco when the severe earthquake of September 8 struck her village in the difficult-to-reach Atlas Mountains. “I wanted to return as soon as possible when I heard about the earthquake,” she says.

“But the roads to my village were all blocked. When I was finally able to return, my village was no longer there.” On top of a pile of stones, she shares her story while crying. “This was my in-laws' house,” she says. “All my relatives have died.”

Difficult to reach

Together with a Christian partner organisation that was already working in the area, ZOA is now providing temporary shelter for the survivors. This is taking place in the area east of Marrakesh. Else Lotte is grateful that ZOA can now do this.

“It is quite difficult to provide help in Morocco,” she says. “The government of Morocco has decided to invite only five countries to provide assistance in the country. In addition, the area where the earthquake took place, close to Marrakesh, is also literally difficult to reach because it is mountainous and the roads are narrow.”

Destroyed buildings

ZOA also hopes to soon be able to provide emergency aid with a partner in Libya, the country that was hit by a flood disaster a few days after the earthquake in Morocco. “The situation there is even more volatile, due to the unstable context. There are two governments in Libya and the security risks in the country are high.”

Cold winter nights

The temporary shelters that ZOA is now setting up with its partner in Morocco, resemble tunnel tents. “It is an iron construction with corrugated sheets and insulation material,” explains Else Lotte. “It is an interim solution that will at least allow people to get through the winter.” From December on, it gets cold at night in the mountainous area, with temperatures below 5 degrees Celsius.

In theory, people could live in the temporary shelters for up to a few years, but the hope is that a structural solution will be found sooner. “It is the first step towards recovery,” says an employee of ZOA's partner organisation. “We hope to be able to support the villagers in this area physically and emotionally for a longer period of time.”

Photos: Jenny Shaffer

*Name changed

Read more about ZOA's shelter approach