(OSV News) – Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. Catholic Church’s international relief and development agency, is assisting recovery efforts following a devastating 6.8 magnitude earthquake that has killed more than 2,900 people in Morocco and injured thousands, the group said.
Caroline Brennan, CRS’ emergency communications director, told OSV News Sept. 12 that CRS would support the relief work of Caritas Morocco and Caritas Rabat, the charitable arm of the Archdiocese of Rabat, as both Moroccan Catholic aid agencies respond to the earthquake that struck in the High Atlas Mountains the night of Sept. 8.
“CRS, among many Caritas global members, is supporting the efforts of Caritas Rabat and Caritas Morocco as they map out these very early stages of emergency relief that provide support for people just to get by through each day, you know, things that you and I might need each day to get through, from blankets to food,” Brennan said.
Brennan also said that telecommunications aid is a key effort in order to make sure survivors can communicate with loved ones.
“One of the greatest challenges in emergencies like this, one of the greatest needs that you hear from families, is just wanting to contact their loved ones to find out if they’re safe and to communicate where they are, communicate how they can meet, helping you find each other to find out if each other is OK,” she said. “And so that need for connection is really significant in a time like this.”
In assisting disaster relief around the world, Brennan said, CRS provides for immediate physical needs but also is mindful of unique or culture-specific needs that may arise. In Muslim-majority Morocco, for instance, female survivors without shelter may have additional privacy needs beyond those of other cultures and female-headed households may be reluctant to travel due to safety risks.
Other concerns include giving survivors space and resources to grieve the loss of loved ones.
“It’s really beyond just the physical needs of course, food and clean water and safe shelter are fundamental, paramount to being able to cope at a time like this, but also is really being mindful of those emotional needs,” she said.
Brennan said she feels “so privileged and fortunate to have seen the impact of donations from the U.S. in emergency contexts around the world.”
“However people are able to engage, if it’s their time, their talent, or treasure, it certainly makes an enormous difference,” she said.