I arrived on Sept. 11, two days after the earthquake struck the region of High Atlas in Morocco. It was the strongest earthquake that Morocco had experienced in decades, killing close to 3,000 people and injuring around 6,000. Along with four other MSF teams, we visited dozens of villages. More than 50,000 houses were destroyed, electricity was cut off in various villages, and some villages were completely razed to the ground, making access more challenging.
Despite the severity of the earthquake, the Moroccan authorities swiftly launched a massive intervention, with the support of a few other states, to search for bodies from under the rubble and to treat people who were injured. They also sent helicopters to evacuate the people in remote areas and in the mountains. The authorities were responding to people’s urgent and immediate medicals needs but the need for mental health support was not yet covered.
From MSF’s long experience in responding to earthquakes, we know mental health is sometimes not put as a priority, yet it is a key element in helping people to adapt and recover and rebuild their lives.