West News Wire: Reporters have uncovered that the United Nations‘ disaster response system is not being used to coordinate the deployment of international search and rescue teams in Morocco in the wake of Friday’s earthquake.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) of the UN typically coordinates the worldwide response to severe disasters and humanitarian catastrophes.
A team from the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) has been on the ground in Morocco since Saturday, OCHA said on Monday.
However, a spokeswoman for OCHA, Jens Laerke, informed news channels that no search and rescue teams have yet been planned through the UN before they arrived in Morocco.
The purpose of the UNDAC team, according to him, was to reinforce UN humanitarian representatives already present in the nation.
At the request of the UN resident coordinator, a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team has arrived in the nation to assist the UN Country Team, according to Laerke.
Within 24 hours of the earthquake, members of the team arrived in Morocco, he claimed.
The UN was prepared to assist the Moroccan administration, according to Nathalie Fustier, the resident coordinator in Rabat, on Saturday.
The resident coordinator “also expresses the solidarity of the United Nations System with Morocco and remains at the disposal of the government to provide all assistance in these difficult times,” Fustier said on behalf of the Country Team and all of the personnel of its organisations.
However, Fustier stated that the UN was still “on standby” in an interview with UN News.
“We have reached out to the government of Morocco to offer UN support in search and rescue, coordination of humanitarian assistance and health,” she said.
“I think the government is deploying its own answer to the earthquake and, for now, we are on standby. We need to assist according to the modalities that the government would like to choose.”
Through an international network of search and rescue organisations called UNDAC and Insarag, OCHA manages how the global body responds to major emergencies and disasters.
Typically, the governments of the affected nations request that Undac and Insarag be sent into disaster zones.
The first nation in Africa to have an Insarag-certified search and rescue squad was Morocco in 2014.
Morocco has thus far accepted assistance from a number of nations, including Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, and the United Kingdom, as well as search and rescue teams.
However, it seems that the Moroccan interior ministry was sluggish to accept offers of assistance from other nations, such as France.
Moroccan state media reported on Sunday that acceptance of offers of support and aid had been “based on a precise assessment of needs on the ground by the Moroccan authorities”.
Almost 2,800 people are confirmed dead, according to the latest death toll from Morocco’s interior ministry. Thousands more are injured, and rescue workers are still struggling to reach remote mountain villages in the areas worst affected by the earthquake.