The devastating earthquake in Morocco is also being felt in our country. Emergency relief efforts are being organized in every corner of the country.
“This is unrelated to religion or culture; it is simply our duty as human beings to help.”
“The plan was to send the first truck to Morocco on Tuesday. But as it stands now, we might already receive the first trailer tonight,” says Redouan El Osri, sounding a bit surprised by the amount of relief goods he has seen pouring in since Sunday afternoon at Boomsesteenweg in Antwerp. This is the result of a call he made on social media, along with a few friends. “These are all people who have an emotional connection to Morocco and who are willing to lend a helping hand.” However, El Osri emphasizes that the idea of helping is unrelated to religion or culture. “It is simply our duty as human beings.”
Although El Osri and his friends’ initiative may have started rather spontaneously, they did indeed seek information in advance about the best way to help. The call they launched explicitly requests various camping materials. This includes tents, sleeping bags, blankets, and pillows. “We are in contact with several people on the ground,” explains El Osri. “They are talking about entire villages that have been completely destroyed. The priority now is to provide these people with some form of shelter.”
Similar initiatives were launched this weekend not only in Antwerp but also in many other places across the country. In Brussels, for example, six municipalities are joining forces. Relief goods will be collected on Tuesday at Kanaaldijk in Anderlecht. There too, they are primarily looking for tents, blankets, flashlights, camp beds, and, if possible, emergency generators. In the coming days, the Brussels mayors, together with the federal government, plan to explore how to transport the collected goods to Morocco.
Collecting goods is one thing; actually getting them to the disaster area is a completely different challenge. In Antwerp as well, they hope to have the support of official authorities for this. An meeting with the Moroccan Consulate is already scheduled, and the Federation of Mosques also promises to lend a hand.
“Once the relief goods are in Morocco, they still need to reach the disaster site,” says Imam Nordine Taouil. “Many of the mountain villages that are now affected were already only accessible via dirt roads before the earthquake. Now it has become even more difficult. Assistance from, for example, the Moroccan army could be a solution.”