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'The need is urgent': Local organizations assisting Morocco from afar

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Residents in Morocco are reeling from a destructive earthquake that has caused over 2,000 deaths.

As international aid workers are helping out on the ground, locals in southwestern Ontario are trying their best to provide relief from afar.

“The needs are beyond the material… people just need a hand to hold or a shoulder to cry on,” said Miranda Gallo, Communications and Government Relations Manager, Islamic Relief Canada.

“They’re really heartbroken,” she said on Monday.

Gallo says their organization has worked quickly to send aid workers to Morocco to provide emergency assistance, as some villages have been reduced to rubble, leaving people in desperate need of food, water, shelter, and electricity.

“Since this is already happening, those who are still alive under the rubble are on a really tight timeline. There’s still time to get people out with proper assistance but it’s becoming grim,” she explained.

A region south of the city of Marrakech was hardest hit by the magnitude-6.8 tremor on Friday night with several aftershocks. The epicentre was high in the Atlas Mountains, about 70 kilometres south of Marrakech in Al Haouz province.

Once news broke of the devastating earthquake, members of the London Muslim Mosque quickly created a fundraiser on its website with a goal of reaching $100,000.

“Our day of service, Friday, we are going to designate the collection on that day for Morocco relief and it’s the least that we can do,” said Mohamed Al-Jammali, Imam, London Muslim Mosque.

Community organizers in London are partnering with Islamic Relief Canada in order to provide collected monetary donations to Moroccans overseas, as financial donations are the fastest way to provide basic needs, Gallo said.

Dr. Munir El-Kassem, Imam of Islamic Centre of southwestern Ontario said, “Whenever we hear about a place of disaster anywhere in the world it is our responsibility to feel the pain, and to respond.”

The Arab Students’ Association at Western University is also partnering with Islamic Relief Canada to collect funds on-campus at their information booth or donate online.

“Me and the executive team talked about setting up a fundraiser as soon as possible,” said Hamzah Algodi, President of the Arabs Students’ Association.

“We started with an online link where people can donate, then started spreading the message through our social media,” he said.

“There’s no goal in mind but we are trying to raise as much money as possible,” added Leen Barzak, the association’s Charity VP. “We felt that it’s very important that we step in and help this cause because it’s very near and dear to our hearts.”

Donations can be made to Islamic Relief Canada through its website.

Elsewhere this year, a magnitude 7.8 temblor that shook Syria and Turkey killed more than 21,600 people.

Of the 2,122 deaths reported as of Sunday evening, 1,351 were in Al Haouz, a region with a population of around 570,000, according to Morocco's 2014 census.

The earthquake shook most of Morocco and caused injury and death in other provinces, including Marrakech, Taroudant and Chichaoua.

 

— With files from The Associated Press’ Sam Metz, Jesse Bedayn in Denver, Angela Charlton in Paris, and Will Weissert in Washington

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