As recovery efforts and work continue to a*sess the damage caused by the deadly earthquake in Morocco and devastating floods in Libya, communities across Canada are working to get supplies and aid to people affected abroad.
This week alone, organizations like Islamic Relief Canada are holding a fundraiser in London, Ontario on Friday to help both countries, while the Moroccan Association of Toronto (AMDT) is organizing a march in High Park on Sunday.
Narjiss Lazrak, president of AMDT, told PKBNEWS in an interview Friday that the support they provide is because even though they’re not here in Canada, “it’s like family.”
“If a family member is hurt or has a problem, you have to help them,” she said. “Even though these people live in another city, they are not close family, but we consider them family. And then we consider that they are humans and therefore they need help.
Deaths and injuries continue to rise in Morocco as teams reach more remote villages and bodies are dug up or people sent to hospital. Authorities said at least 2,901 deaths were reported Tuesday and the United Nations estimates 300,000 people were affected by the 6.8 magnitude earthquake last Friday evening.
Since then, the country has limited the amount of aid allowed into the country and only given the green light to crews from Spain, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, as well as to non-governmental organizations.
With Canada among the countries unable to provide direct aid, it sought to provide a*sistance through other means, including the federal government, announcing that it would match donations made to the Canadian Red Cross up to a maximum of $3 million.
Lazrak applauded the measure, adding that while she recognizes that people may want to send physical items, it can be more difficult to know exactly what is needed and that monetary donations will ensure the right needs are met.
“Your donation will be routed to the right place where needs will be a*sessed,” she said. “These donations will go into the right hands, to trustworthy people, and will then be used in the right way. »
Several Canadians of Moroccan origin were also directly affected by the earthquake due to the presence of family members and friends in the country.
Jouwairia Lahboub-Daayf, president of the Moroccan Atlas Association of Manitoba, spoke with PKBNEWS earlier this week about how her family is handling the situation – her husband has family in the Agadir region who were part of those affected.
She said that while his family is doing well, he has close friends in the area who have been affected by both the destruction of their homes and the deaths of those his friends knew.
“So this is really sad news, very difficult to hear. And then my husband, as well as people that we know here, we try to find ways to help in any way we can,” she said.
Lahboub-Daayf said logistically it will take time to provide aid to people in the North African country, but she said groups of Moroccans here in Canada are coming together and raising money to increase the amount of monetary donations to be made available.
She also added that other communities have also asked for their help.
“We really appreciate the support from other communities. I know we have the Lebanese, the Libyan communities, the Canadians. They were all here asking how this could help,” she said.
Last Sunday, the Association of Moroccan Houses of British Columbia organized a solidarity rally with the victims of the earthquake. Director Nadia Ouazzani said there was still more to do than just financial donations.
“I would like them to pray for the victims and their families,” she told PKBNEWS, adding that as the days go by, they are waiting to see what else might be needed.
“I would like to know later what could be done, what other types of needs does Morocco need. Then we’ll see how to get that to them.
In fashion now
Efforts to help Libyans are equally important, with Libyan-Canadians stepping up efforts to find ways to deliver aid to flood-affected communities.
Earlier this week, Storm Daniel wreaked havoc across the country, sweeping away entire neighborhoods and destroying homes in several coastal towns. As of Friday, more than 10,000 people were still missing and more than 11,000 lives had been lost.
Islamic Relief Canada, which has sent teams to both countries, said the fundraiser it is hosting Friday serves not only to raise money to provide aid, but also to raise awareness about the situation in both countries.
Yasmin Alameddin, regional fundraising manager, told PKBNEWS that among the items needed are blankets, food and mattresses. But it could be medicine that we need tomorrow, then medicine and then shelter. But it is still monetary aid that is most needed.
“We must be able to act very quickly in response to current needs. And this cannot be done without your help,” she said.
Esra Bengizi, a Libyan Canadian from Toronto, says her family in Libya is living a “perpetual nightmare” as the country faces “one tragedy after another.” This includes the intermittent war that has taken place since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi’s government in 2011, and now the flooding caused by Storm Daniel.
Even though she told PKBNEWS that most of her family members are safe, they are still suffering from the loss of their belongings or possessions, and that is why help is still needed. She said involving communities here in Canada can be crucial, as they might be able to supply communities more easily than international aid organizations on the ground.
“We have closer ties with the gra*sroots organizations that are on the ground in Libya,” she said in an interview. “So we all have family members and loved ones who are in Libya, who are traveling there and who are able to get help directly and probably more quickly than some of these organizations. »
While financial donations are very helpful, Bengizi said all types of donations should always be considered by Canadians wanting to help, from clothing and blankets to medicine. She adds that people should even be directed to resources to access psychological and emotional help.
But even though donations are made by Canadians and aid is provided by various organizations, Dr. Alaa Murabit, a Canadian of Libyan origin, says people need to recognize that in the weeks, months and even years to come , this help will always be necessary.
She said the most devastating thing about the floods is their aftermath and that although a humanitarian crisis is underway, it will not take just a few weeks to relocate people. For example, Libyan communities could face water-borne diseases and children may not have access to education for some time.
This is why Murabit, high-level UN commissioner for health employment and economic growth, says that in addition to physical, emotional and psychological support, awareness of what has pa*sed is also important.
“In a few days there will be another crisis, this is the reality of the world,” said Murabit, founder of The Voice of Libyan Women. “And yet there will always be people in need. So continue to raise awareness, continue to really advocate for the fact that the Libyan population needs support.
Murabit added that while she appreciates the work of communities and humanitarian organizations who have raised awareness of the disaster and worked to provide aid to those in need, “the truth is that it never seems enough,” adding that it can come from people. dissociate ourselves” from what is happening in other countries.
“I think the more we can put ourselves in those positions, the more honest we can be that if it was us, it wouldn’t be enough.”