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Morocco’s Earthquake Highlighted Obstacles to Relief Efforts through Disaster Diplomacy

A 6.8-7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Morocco on September 8, 2023, causing widespread damage in Marrakesh and mountain villages.

According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, more than 3,000 people have died in Morocco.

Members of the Institut de diplomatie publique are deeply saddened by the devastating consequences of this tragic event and wish a speedy recovery ahead to all those affected.

The annual meeting of the IMF and World Bank had been scheduled in Marrakech since long before the earthquake. After the earthquake, questions were raised about whether the location for the Annual Meetings should be changed but the IMF and World Bank chose to stand with Morocco and the Moroccan people, who have once again shown resilience in the face of tragedy.

Despite the earthquake, the Annual Meeting brought together central bankers, ministers of finance and development, SCO, media, and academics to discuss issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook, global financial stability, poverty eradication, inclusive economic growth and job creation, climate change, and others.

The Institute, represented by its director O. Weretelnik (PhD), participated in the meetings.

The quake has damaged several tourist and historical sites in Marrakech.

Among the sites that sustained damage in Marrakech are the old city area-Medina and the towering minarets of the Koutoubia (photo 1- the thousand-year-old mosque miraculously rescued from the earthquake). A 77-metre tower built by the Almohads in the 12th century may have wobbled, but it stands as a symbol of resilience of Morocco.


Disaster diplomacy investigates how and why disaster-related activities do and do not influence conflict and cooperation.

Today disaster diplomacy has growing support from civil society because

disasters affect different stakeholders,, some more than others depending on their vulnerability.

In order to arrive at decisions that benefit all stakeholder groups it is essential to include their representatives in the disaster diplomacy discourse.

Therefore, we pursue and encourage projects that facilitate international and interdisciplinary research, interagency collaborations, and inclusion of representatives of vulnerable communities.

We investigate the effectiveness of disaster diplomacy for a deeper exploration and analysis of the links between sectors, disaster and public diplomacy activities by considering efforts during disaster as political, through disaster preparedness (before) and disaster response (during and after).

Morocco limited its initial appeal for international help to four countries –Spain, Britain, UAE, and Qatar. Why, for example, is France despite the historic links missing in this list? 1.5 million people of Moroccan origin live in France. Morocco’s response to French aid has been a priming topic on French television networks.

"Vulnerability always exists before a crisis can occur," says Dr O. Weretelnik.

"Factors that increase people's vulnerability include poverty, inequality, limited access to health services and lack of disaster management strategies."

Disaster risk management includes public diplomacy activities.

Disaster diplomacy practitioners consider disasters as recurring events with four phases:

mitigation,

preparedness,

response, and

recovery.

These common elements allow people to prepare for and protect themselves from disaster.

The problem is also that there still aren’t enough volunteers who are trained in large-scale disaster operations to meet the demand.


Morocco is contending with unimaginable disaster but the impact of the earthquake on the lives, health, and well-being of Moroccans is only just emerging.

Disasters almost always come with hefty health bills.

Expressions of support might help to unlock the loss and damage discussions at the global level. We stand with Morocco during this difficult time.


TOURISM RETURN

I saw over the last weeks, that the Moroccan authorities as well as the civil society in Morocco, were able to rebuild back very quickly.

A typical Moroccan dinner may include tagine (a slow-cooked stew), couscous, harira (a soup made with lamb, chickpeas, and tomatoes), pastilla (a sweet and savory pie made with shredded chicken or pigeon), snail soup, and Bastila (a dessert pastry filled with almonds and eggs).

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