News reports, MACP (Washington, DC, Dec. 24, 2012) — Over the past decade, Morocco has reached out to neighboring countries and people in the region to provide humanitarian aid and support in times of serious crises, whether due to violence and conflict or natural disasters. In the past few years, tragic events and turmoil in the Middle East, North Africa and the Sahel have made this humanitarian assistance, both political and economic, all the more important.
Advocacy for democracy and human rights in Libya and Syria
Morocco demonstrated its regional leadership on the importance of human rights protection during the crises in Libya and Syria. It participated in discussions with Western powers over the Libyan crisis, one of the few Arab countries and the only North African country openly involved in such talks. In cooperation with the Arab League, Morocco endorsed the no-fly zone over Libya and advocated its support for the Libyan people to democratically determine their future. On Syria, Morocco demonstrated leadership at the UN Security Council, authoring the draft resolution calling for a ceasefire, expressing grave concerns at the deteriorating situation, and condemning gross violations of human rights.
Moroccan Field Hospital/Other aid for Syrian Refugees in Jordan and Turkey
Morocco has also provided humanitarian support to the Syrian people who have been dislocated due to the violence. In response to growing humanitarian concerns, Morocco established a field hospital at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, which hosts Syrian refugees. Over 41,000 Syrian refugees have benefited from the services provided by the medical-surgical field hospital, set-up and staffed by the Moroccan Royal Armed Forces. In late November 2012, Morocco announced that it would be providing 2,000 additional tents to Syrian refugees in Jordan and Turkey in advance of the upcoming winter. The aid was provided by the Moroccan Agency for International Cooperation and the Mohammed VI Foundation for Solidarity.
Moroccan Field Hospital in Gaza
In response to the November 2012 conflict in Gaza, Morocco set up a medical-surgical field hospital to help Palestinians injured in air strikes. The 120-bed hospital, one of the largest field hospitals operating in the Gaza Strip, is run by 100 doctors, nurses, and administrative staff, comprised of medical personnel from the armed forces as well as Moroccan civilian doctors and paramedics. Morocco has also sent medicine and humanitarian aid, including 4 tons of drugs and 38 tons of foodstuffs, mainly powdered milk and rice for Gaza's children. Through this humanitarian initiative, Morocco is working with the Palestinian authorities to help alleviate the suffering of the population.
Praise from International Red Cross
The Head of the Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Palestine, Jean-Pierre Schaerer, has praised Morocco for its strong support for the Palestinian people in providing a medical-surgical field hospital in Gaza. Schaerer noted that the hospital was providing support not only in terms of physical health, but mental health as well. Hundreds of Gazans have been treated at the hospital thus far.
Humanitarian aid for Gazans
Dr. Younis Al Khatib, President of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), likewise lauded the efforts of the King, Government, and people of Morocco. He conveyed to them the gratitude and thanks of President Abbas for the humanitarian support provided by Morocco, who has always supported the Palestinian cause. Al Khatib noted, "Morocco, thanks to the efforts of its King and government, has played a major role and provided great humanitarian and material support to Palestinians in general and to the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip in particular." Morocco's humanitarian support to the Palestinians is longstanding. In 2009, a grant from His Majesty King Mohammed VI allowed the reconstruction of PRCS' Al Quds hospital following its destruction during the conflict in 2008/2009.
Crisis in Mali and the Sahel
Morocco has similarly provided humanitarian assistance to its neighbors confronting both political and humanitarian crises in the Sahel. In April 2012, King Mohammed VI dispatched 14 tons of foodstuffs to assist Niger in dealing with the flow of Malian refugees and helping to meet their most basic needs. The King has also pledged such support to Mauritania and Burkina Faso, two countries also confronting refugee flows as a result of the crises in Mali. These initiatives are in line with Morocco's solidarity-based policy towards African peoples and countries.
Floods in Niger
In October 2012, the Kingdom dispatched further humanitarian aid - 45 tons of foodstuffs - to Niger to help victims of recent floods there. Nigerien Interior Minister Abdou Labo expressed great thanks to Morocco for its humanitarian support, noting, "the Kingdom of Morocco intervenes immediately whenever Niger is in difficult situation. This is how we see friendship among peoples; a friend in need is a friend indeed."