Morocco - Earthquake OCHA Situation Report No. 6

Situation Report
Originally published
Ref: OCHA/GVA - 2004/0039
OCHA Situation Report No. 6
Morocco - Earthquake near the city of Al-Hoceima
5 March 2004


1. According to the Al-Hoceima Regional Support Committee latest report, the earthquake claimed 628 lives and injured 926 people. Among the injured, 101 are still in hospital, including 14 transferred to Rabat and 2 others to Nador (East). The new figures mark a significant increase from the previous toll of 572 dead and more than doubles the number of injured from an earlier figure of 405 (see OCHA situation reports N.4 and 5).

2. The Al-Hoceima Regional Support committee also said that more than 15,000 people were left homeless by the earthquake, and that 2,539 homes were reduced to rubble, the large majority of them -- nearly 2,500 -- in rural areas where they were mainly built in mud brick.

3. UNICEF reported that four school buildings formerly housing over 5,000 students are completely unusable, and that another dozen are partially damaged. In addition, at least 35,000 children have lost their houses, school supplies and clothing. The Ministry of Education announced that the estimated total cost to repair schools in the area is approximately USD 6.5 million. The official Moroccan Press, the Maghreb Arab Press, announced that schools in the affected region would re-open soon.

4. According to the UNCT inter-agency mission, health needs are under control. The needs were principally related to the existence of low coverage immunization areas (40% in some cases) as well as with general peri-natal care and nutrition surveillance and assistance.

5. The impact on social services and structures seemed relatively limited, with minimal damage to health clinics, electricity cuts limited to the first hours after the quake, at least in urban centres, and apparently limited in range in rural zones surrounding the epicentre. The main hospital of Al-Hoceima quickly received appropriate drugs and equipment and was only in need of additional paramedics.

6. There seems to be no severe damage in the water sector. The latter will nonetheless require extensive support in the area of sanitation and hygiene. Houses and sanitary facilities have been destroyed, and makeshift tent camps can present public health risks related to the management of excreta and waste disposal.

National Response

7. According to the Support Committee, 18,760 tents have been distributed in the region, along with 168,870 blankets, 1,561 tons of food, 106 tons of medicine and 48 tons of clothing.

8. Aid distribution is still continuing. Stronger coordination mechanisms were established, significantly supported by strengthened assessment and distribution capacity on the ground, especially through the added capacity brought in by the Moroccan Red Crescent Society and several national Red Cross delegations. The national army is also involved to support relief provision.

9. According to the USAID/DART, the Ministry of Health is developing plans to increase sanitation facilities in the official government camps through its implementing partner, the Mohammed V Foundation.

10. According to IFRC, the Moroccan Red Crescent staff and volunteers have distributed some 4,600 tents to survivors in the hardest-hit villages and hamlets of Al-Hoceima province. The distribution of other relief goods, such as hygiene items and kitchen utensils will take place over the coming days. The Moroccan Red Crescent has mobilized more than 330 volunteers to make sure all victims receive adequate assistance. Tents are being handed out to families living in makeshift shelters near the rubble of their homes. In more scattered communities, distributions are conducted from schools and mosques, with heads of families using donkeys to carry the tents back to their villages.

11. A Moroccan Red Crescent mobile clinic is moving from village to village, providing basic health care to people in remote areas. Since the earthquake, it has treated some 350 patients.

12. The tented camp in the town of Im Zouren, managed by the Moroccan Red Crescent, shelters 1,200 people. Meals or food, as well as other relief goods, and essential psychosocial support is provided to earthquake victims in this camp, especially children. Games, music and film screenings are organized on a daily basis, to help survivors overcome the trauma of the disaster.

13.King Mohammed VI has granted the status of "Orphans in State Care" to all children who lost their parents in the earthquake. The Government will provide financial assistance, including education, to these children.

14. Structural experts began inspecting homes in the quake zone, using color code to indicate whether they should be torn down or were still fit for habitation.

International Response

15. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) launched a USD 200,000 emergency operation to assist the victims the earthquake. WFP, working together with UNICEF and Moroccan government partners, will provide daily meals - consisting of high energy biscuits and locally-procured cheese and milk - to some 16,000 school children, and one-month rations of wheat flour, sugar and oil to 1,300 families .The aim is to encourage families to send their children back to school and help them to cope with their losses.

16. In the coming days, UNICEF will ship 225 recreation kits, 450 education kits for up to 35,000 children, and a limited number of large school tents, meningitis vaccines and water purification tablets. All of these supplies will be delivered to Ministry counterparts and dispatched to the most needy locations according to distribution plans already agreed upon.

17.The Moroccan Government and UNICEF have decided on a strong "Back to School" campaign in the Al-Hoceima Province which could give psychosocial support and recreation activities to children. UNICEF's appealed for USD 1,512,000 for priority areas: 1) the immediate resumption of education for all children 2) support to reestablishing a safe learning and growing environment with appropriate psychosocial support mainly through recreation and sports 3) assisting the authorities in a range of health activities in child immunization and 4) meeting the immediate nutritional needs of vulnerable children and monitoring child malnutrition. UNICEF will also conduct an in-depth rapid assessment in the coming days.

18. New emergency health kits provided by WHO to cover the needs of 20,000 people for 3 months arrived on 1 March. Other supplies are on the way to Morocco, and there is continued dialogue with the Ministry of Health through the WHO representative office.

19. The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (ADB) has decided to provide through an accelerated procedure an emergency grant of USD 500,000 to Morocco. The assistance, obtained from the Special Emergency Relief Fund of the ADB, is intended to meet part of the foreign currency cost of humanitarian aid for the victims of the earthquake. A mission of experts will visit Morocco to assess complementary interventions that could be undertaken by the Bank within the framework of its emergency assistance

20.The Turkish Red Crescent Society donated USD 30,000 in monetary aid through the IFRC team.

21. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is committing an initial allocation of USD 50,000 to provide tents, blankets and mattresses to victims. Caritas Interparroquial de Melilla has provided a total of 8 contemnors of humanitarian assistance to the affected area.

22. OCHA is prepared to serve as a channel for cash contributions to be used for immediate relief assistance, in coordination with relevant organizations in the United Nations system. For banking details please contact the desk officers indicated below. OCHA provides donor governments with written confirmation and pertinent details concerning the utilization of the funds contributed.

23. Updates on contributions to this disaster may be found by clicking on Financial Tracking at the top of the page for this disaster on the OCHA Internet Website ( Donors are requested to verify this table and inform OCHA Geneva of corrections/additions/values. Donors are encouraged to notify OCHA Geneva of their contributions to this disaster using the OCHA Standardized Contributions Recording Format, available electronically in the above-mentioned Financial Tracking Website.

24. OCHA is in close contact with the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Morocco and with the UN inter-agency assessment mission, and will revert with further information as it becomes available.

25. This situation report, together with further information on ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at

Telephone: +41-22-91712 34
Fax: +41-22-917 00 23

In case of emergency only: Tel. +41-22-917 20 10

Desk Officer in Gva:
Ms. Heidi Kuttab, Direct Tel: +41 22 917 3194

Desk Officer in NY:
Mr. Marc Van Wynsberghe, Direct Tel: +1 212 963 8740

Press contact:
(GVA) - Ms. Elizabeth Byrs, Direct Tel. +41-22-917 26 53
(N.Y.) - Ms. Stephanie Bunker, Direct Tel. +1-917-367 51 26

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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