UN food agency rushes nutritious meals to quake-hit Morocco

4 March 2004

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today launched a $200,000 emergency operation to assist the victims of last month’s earthquake that devastated the Al-Hoceima region in northeastern Morocco.

The disaster, which hit in the early morning hours of 24 February, killed almost 600 people, injured hundreds of others and left many homeless.

WFP, working together with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Moroccan government partners, will provide daily meals – consisting of high-energy biscuits and locally-procured cheese and milk – to some 16,000 school children and one-month rations of wheat flour, sugar and oil to 1,300 families in the region most affected by the earthquake.

“Our aim is to encourage families to send their children back to school and help them to cope with their losses,” said Nicholas Oberlin, Programme Officer for WFP's assessment team in Morocco.

In the coming days, UNICEF will ship 225 recreation kits as well as 450 education kits for up to 35,000 children, and a limited number of large school tents, meningitis vaccines and water purification tablets to Morocco.

Many of the victims were caught in their sleep when the earthquake, registering 6.5 on the Richter scale, struck the port city of Al-Hoceima and its surrounding villages. Several aftershocks have continued to affect the area, some 300 kilometres northeast of Rabat, and many people are still afraid to sleep indoors, despite the cold and wet conditions, according to the UN. Some 500,000 homeless survivors are living in tents.


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