Morocco: Earthquake Appeal No. 06/04 - Operations Update no. 2


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In Brief

Appeal (Preliminary) no. 06/04; Operations Update no. 1; Period covered: 26 - 29 February 2004; Appeal coverage: 100% (note: contributions are now being recorded in the Federation's systems, and will be reflected shortly on the web page for this operation).

Appeal history:

  • Launched on a provisional basis on 24 February 2004 for CHF 2,832,000 (USD 2,282,852 or EUR1,799,553) for 6 months to assist 30,000 beneficiaries.
  • Disaster Relief Emergency Funds (DREF) allocated: CHF 75,000.
  • With Operations Update no. 2, this is now considered a full (and final) Appeal.

Outstanding needs: none; this appeal is fully covered.

Related Emergency or Annual Appeals: 2004 Annual Appeal for North Africa (no. 01.88/2004)

Operational Summary: With after-shocks and tremors being felt continuously in the northern Moroccan province of Al Hoceima, the entire population of approximately half a million people remains in a state of alert. Exposure to freezing night temperatures together with occasional rainfall is a major concern since some 30,000 of the directly and indirectly affected people are living and sleeping outdoors, mostly in makeshift, improvised shelters. The immediate distribution of tents and blankets is therefore considered a pressing priority. Within its own capacities and available resources, the Moroccan Red Crescent's (MRC's) response, supported by the Federation's Field Assessment Coordination Team (FACT), has been perceived by the affected population as extremely positive, but there is growing pressure on the national society to fill in gaps in the overall response. To address some of these demands, on 28 February the MRC started to enlarge its tented camp with 6 large tents being erected to accommodate 120 persons. This will contribute to alleviating the suffering of a portion of the affected people and to partially ease mounting tensions among the population. The Federation appreciates the timely and generous donor response to this preliminary Appeal, which is now fully covered.

Parallel to the targeted distributions of 1,100 tents that started on 28 February (in line with priorities identified through the FACT/MRC field assessments in Tamassint, Imzouren and Ait Kamara), the needs of the affected people are being reassessed. Given that this Appeal is fully covered, it is now considered as the full Emergency Appeal, and no revision will therefore be issued. Operational adjustments will be reflected in subsequent Operations Updates.


At approximately 02:30 am on Tuesday, 24 February 2004, an earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale hit north-eastern Morocco. The epicentre was reportedly located in the Strait of Gibraltar, approximately 15 kilometres west of the Mediterranean port city of Al Hoceima (185 miles or 295 km east-northeast of the capital Rabat) capital of the Al Hoceima Province.

Operational developments

Five days after the earthquake t h at struck the northern Moroccan district of Al Hoceima, the situation remains alarming as after-shocks continue. According to official reports, the disaster caused 572 deaths, with some 500 injured and several thousand affected. Almost the entire population is staying outdoors with fears increasing with each after-shock. Schools are closed as well as almost all shops in the provincial capital Al Hoceima. The MRC was one of the first organizations to respond to the disaster, together with the civil defence, local communities and authorities, the army and national NGOs.

At the earliest stages of the operation the assessments, mobilization of resources and response activities focused on the affected urban communities. The access to several remote villages was made possible within the 48 hours following the disaster.

The Moroccan sovereign, H.M. the King Mohammed VI arrived in the affected region on the 28 February in the evening for a 48 hours visit. It has been announced that the King Mohammed VI will pay a visit to the MRC/Federation camp on 1 March. In terms of the so-called ORSEC plan (an equivalent of the national emergency response plan), various national players (civil protection, the army, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Health, and others) were mobilized and started to deploy in the region in order to provide search and rescue and other emergency response activities within their respective mandates. The ORSEC has not been updated for many years, and the current operation proves a need to launch as soon as possible a dialogue among national partners in order to better define roles and responsibilities and improve coordination mechanisms.

The Moroccan Army and the Civil Defence have opened several tented camps in the affected urban areas. Many people are however reluctant to leave their destroyed or damaged properties to move to the camps. Damage assessments are under way and governmental reconstruction and rehabilitation projections and plans will be known in the coming weeks.

Assessment: methodology and main operational findings

The Federation team (FACT/ERU/media and health specialists) together with MRCS counterparts assigned to the fact finding mission started systematic needs assessments in the most affected communities in order to prioritize regions to be assisted and make immediate distributions plans.

Three teams were deployed respectively in the communes of Ait Kamara, Tamassint and Imzouren, which have been reported as mostaffected. Each of these communities is made up of several villages or local communities. Teams have conducted family to family visits and interviews, as well as meetings with the authorities (local authorities, health authorities, army, civil defence and community leaders) and other national and international NGOs and GOs present on the ground. The information below is based on these sources.

Structural damage
Iaakayan, Louta, Issout
Bni Bou Ayach
Pont Nekor
Ait Kamara 13 (total)
Tamassint 13 (total)
Zeniat Sidi Aissa


In all the villages and communes visited t here are visible signs of destruction of houses ranging from 30 to 90 percent. However it was difficult to assess the real extent of the damage due to a variety of situations (for example where outside walls of houses have remained intact but the interiors have collapsed). Families in all visited places are living outdoors nearby their houses in improvised shelters made of improvised material. They are reluctant to leave their farms and move to the camps.


The conclusion of the assessments indicated a clear need for shelter (tents and blankets) for the affected population. Many of the people managed to with draw basic household items from their collapsed or damaged houses. All interviewed families expressed an urgent need for tents. The lists below outline quantities of tents needed in the most affected communities, and were compiled in consultation with local leaders - mukadems and caids.

Centre Tamassint
Tamassint Sonfla
Zariat Sidi Aissa
Ait Aziz
Ait El Kadi
Ait M'hand on Yahia
Ait Daoud
Ait Kamara Centre
Ait Benzekri
Ait Nassaoud
Bni Bu Aya


Health facilities have not suffered major structural damage. The main hospital in the region is Mohammed V Hospital with 330 beds located in Al Hoceima. The maternity wards of the hospital were the only damaged and deliveries are now taking place in the mobile clinic adjacent to the damaged ward. There are two health centres with in patient capacity (Tarquiste and Imzouren with 25 and 30 beds respectively).

The number of disaster-related health urgencies treated in the Mohammed V hospital on the 24th February was around 300, out of which 30 were severe cases and 7 were subsequently referred to Rabat Hospital. On 25 February the number of patients treated decreased to 100 patients, a majority with fractures.

The overall health situation seems to be under control with no outbreaks of disaster-related. According to the situation surveyed in most of the health facilities in the region,50 percent of the patients are currently suffering from psycho trauma and anxiety.

The Moroccan army has deployed three health facilities in the areas of Ait Kamara, Imzouren and Beni Hadifa. The MRC is operating an advanced health post is based in Al Hoceima city centre. An average of 20 patients daily (most of them suffering from stress) sought assistance from the medical team.

Another health centre was established in an army camp erected in Al Hoceima sheltering approximately 2,000 people. The centre provides health care to the population of the camp. An average daily number of 150 patients were recorded in the last two days. Most of the patients suffered from mental distress, in juries, and respiratory infections

Imzouren: On February 28, the MRC opened a health facility at the entrance of the Red Cross and Red Crescent camp. Two hundred patients were seen the first day, of which 100 (50%) were suffering from stress and trauma, 50 from chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, 10 from respiratory infections and two from diarrhoea. The remaining 48 people who came for consultation were basically in need of psycho-social support.

Ait Kamara: The Health Centre operating under the Ministry of Health receives an average of 50 patients daily. Cases of diarrhoea diseases were not reported.

Tazarine: The Spanish Government deployed (6 February) an emergency team (SAMUR) of three medical staff to operate a basic health centre and a mobile clinic. The mobile clinic is running in cooperation with the MRCS. On the 26 and 27 of February a total of 91 patients were treated in the basic health unit. The majority of patients suffer from injuries, some of them being pre-disaster injuries and respiratory tract infections with some cases of stress reported.

Tamassint: The commune of Tamassint has a health centre where most of the earthquake injuries had been treated. The most severe cases were however referred to the main hospital Mohammed V in Al Hoceima. The number of patients currently does not exceed the normal average of 30 per day. The most common pathology is related to respiratory tract infections (50 percent of the cases). The only needs identified in the medical field were expressed by the medical staff in the Tamassint Health centre where there is a lack of tetanus vaccines and antibiotics for serious respiratory tract infections and in the Al Hoceima Mohammed V hospital where anaesthetics were reported as the only missing medical supplies.


According to the MoH staff responsible for water and sanitation, the systems have not been damaged and the water supply has not been interrupted. Water quality control has been undertaken in Ait Kamara and Imzouren. As a conclusion there is no indication for a possible outbreak of water-born diseases. However the sanitation is becoming an issue of increasing concerne specially in the urban areas given that all camps lack sufficient facilities (latrines especially). The Federation is closely monitoring the situation as well as the WHO that started to inspect sanitation in all the camps.

Red Crescent camp in Imzouren:

The expansion of the camp may pose sanitation problems due to the very limited number of facilities available (below Sphere standards).

Tazarine: Water is available form the usual sources of supply -- wells that were not damagedb y the earthquake. Water quality control has not taken place. Some quantities of water purification tablets with instruction for use were distributed to the population.

Tamassint: Water is available from usual sources of supply -- wells that were not damaged by the earthquake. Water quality control has not been undertaken. There were no cases of diarrhoea reported at the Health Centre.


Even though there are no acute food shortages especially in the rural areas, access to food is fairly limited particularly in the cities. Most of the shops are closed and markets have not been fully restored yet. A total or partial loss of houses and households coupled with the fact that people live outdoors indicate that the situation needs to be further monitored. In almost all the locations visited, Federation assessment and relief teams have assisted in distributions of bread and other food items such as canned fish, olives and oranges. Distributions to the population were done directly from cars and trucks.

Response so far: government/other organizations

According to the information gathered so far, in the Tamassint commune, the Moroccan government distributed blankets, sugar, canned food and flour by helicopters on 27, February. The French Civil Protection donated 140 family tents to the local authorities of Tamassint, but distributions have not taken place immediately due to a lack of consistent distribution plan. The Italian Cooperation donated blankets and basic food items to the authorities of this commune.

In Ait Kamara, the local authorities have distributed so far 1,000 tents. However the quality of these tents proved to befar below the standards and the population expressed deep dissatisfaction. In Tazarine, 140 tents donated by the Spanish government were distributed on 28 February. MSF have distributed blankets and food items.

Survey on medium terms plans

In ordert o assess plans and intentions of the affected people for their immediate future, questionnaires developed by the Federation/MRC team and consisting of 8 basic questions were circulated on 29 February among adult residents of the Red Cross and Red Crescent camp in Imzouren. The results of the survey show:

  • out of the total number of 130 families (seven persons per family), 90 percent of people are from Imzouren urban commune and the others from its surroundings;
  • nineteen percent (19%) of families are living in the camp because their houses were destroyed; 66 percent because their homes were partially damaged; and the others because they are afraid;
  • one hundred and ten families are planning to stay two weeks and beyond in the camp;
  • related to solutions to their current problems, 58 percent of the surveyed families plan to reconstruct their homes; 18 percent expect external support in rebuilding their lives and 4 percent count on government support, the remaining families are expecting various solutions and hopes ranging from finding a house somehow and somewhere to an end to the tremors;
  • eighty-two families lack any kind of information on government plans and support.

Based on the subsequent analysis of the findings of the survey, the Federation and MRC will determine activities to be further implemented for the benefit of the affected population such as: improving living conditions though increased number and quality water sanitation service, psychological support, specially designed activities for children, and other activities identified as relevant.

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