On September 8, 2023, Morocco was struck with a powerful earthquake in the central Marrakesh region, killing thousands of people, damaging buildings and severing power lines. To help rescue workers and medics in the region, a number of Dutch organisations have started to collect donations to support people affected by the disaster. Here’s how you can help from the Netherlands:

Red Cross (Rode Kruis) has opened Giro 6868 to collect donations

For now, only a limited number of national charities are accepting monetary donations to assist Morocco. The largest of these, the Red Cross (Rode Kruis) has set up the Giro6868 fund to send financial donations to those in need after the earthquake. 

There have also been a number of independent fundraising actions taken by small institutions such as the Blauwe Moskee (Blue Mosque) in Amsterdam and the Najiba Foundation in Utrecht. The Najiba Foundation is well-acquainted with Morocco after running a number of projects in the country and has already begun to collect a list of items as per a request from the Mayor of Marrakesh. They are also running a donation campaign on their website.

Be sure to check other legitimate local organisations in your city for small fundraising drives too, as Blauwe Moskee and Najiba are not the only small organisations with collections.

Tricky diplomatic situation makes for harder rescue work

The situation in Morocco is tricky, not just due to the geographical location of the earthquake, but also because many international organisations simply do not operate there. This is also the reason why there is not yet a nationwide donation campaign in the Netherlands, since many of the organisations affiliated with the Dutch Giro555 are not able to work in the country. 

The Dutch government has also pledged 5 million euros to the Dutch Red Cross to try and help with the situation. So far, Morocco has only accepted assistance from Spain, the United Kingdom, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. But indications from several members of the Dutch government, including outgoing Minister for Climate and Energy Rob Jetten, suggest that further assistance would be provided to Morocco if needed, according to RTL.

A Dutch Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team is also ready to travel to the disaster area when a request is made. The newspaper also noted that nearby France has been quick to defend Morocco’s preliminary rejection of its aid offer, at a time when diplomatic relations between the two countries have stalled, stating that “Morocco is a sovereign country that decides for itself on emergency aid”.

2023 Morocco earthquake is the biggest since 1900

The 2023 Morocco earthquake had a magnitude of 6,8 on the Richter scale, and struck late in the evening of September 8. So far, the earthquake has caused thousands of deaths, but many more people are believed to be injured or dead in hard-to-reach areas in the surrounding Atlas Mountains. The earthquake is the biggest to strike Morocco since before 1900 and has been described as a “once-in-a-lifetime earthquake” by the media. 

So far, international aid has been slow to reach Morocco, in part due to the “door policy” of only letting in aid from certain countries that the country has applied to international aid, Humanitarian studies professor Thea Hilhorst told RTL. Despite some of the criticism the response has received, the professor thinks the policy is understandable: “This way you can keep an eye on what is happening, and that is necessary. Without organisation it can get quite messy. You have to know what is needed and what is coming in”, Hilhorst explained.

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