Finland’s support to Libya and Morocco

The floods in Libya and the earthquake in Morocco have killed thousands of people. How is Finland supporting the relief efforts? How will Finland’s assistance reach its destination and why is Finland’s support important? Niklas Saxen, Senior Adviser for Humanitarian Assistance at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Teemu Sepponen, Finland’s Ambassador in Tunis, and Marjaana Sall, Finland’s Ambassador to Morocco, answer these questions.

In Libya, international assistance has reached people from the second day of the flood disaster. Photo: WFP / Maysaa Al Ghribawy

Senior Adviser Niklas Saxen, how is Finland supporting humanitarian efforts in Libya?

“Finland funds the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which released EUR 10 million in humanitarian assistance the day the flood disaster hit Libya. With the funds, UN agencies were able to start delivering aid and support, such as blankets, tents and hygiene items.”

“It has been a week since Libya was hit by torrential rain and floods that burst dams, and the main focus now is on helping those whose homes were destroyed. Clean water supplies and health services are instrumental in preventing outbreaks of cholera and acute diarrhoea.”

“Part of Finland’s support to Libya is channelled through the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism, which is led by the Ministry of the Interior. Finland responded to Libya’s call for international assistance by delivering tents, blankets, sleeping mats and water canisters.”

How is Finland supporting Morocco?

In Morocco, The Moroccan Red Crescent Society (MRCS) has provided first aid and psychosocial support, helped in transporting the injured to hospitals and evacuating people from damaged buildings. Photo: Vanesa Colsa / IFRC

“The Moroccan Government has taken a strong lead in coordinating the relief efforts. So far, it has requested international assistance only to a limited extent. Finland granted EUR 700,000 for the humanitarian assistance delivered by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The funds were channelled through the Finnish Red Cross. The Red Cross and Red Crescent have already delivered vital assistance, such as tents and blankets, but Finland’s funds can also be used to address medium-term needs once reconstruction begins. In addition, the UN’s humanitarian agencies supported by Finland are prepared to respond if Morocco calls for their assistance.”

“In both countries, local volunteers and aid workers, who were there from the outset, are key players in the relief efforts. International assistance will be used to help their work.”

Ambassador Teemu Sepponen, what is happening now in Libya?

“The conditions in the flood disaster areas of eastern Libya are shocking, to say the least. People are fortifying the remaining infrastructure to prevent new disasters, while others are working hard to find and rescue victims or to deliver shelter and other vital assistance to survivors.”

“This disaster hit eastern Libya amidst the local communities’ efforts to reunite their country and ensure lasting peace. Libya will need a lot more support from international community under the auspices of the UN.”

Is international assistance reaching those in need in Libya and is there enough help available?

“The UN estimates that international assistance has reached people from the second day of the flood disaster. A large number of agencies are providing assistance, and that assistance is making a difference.”

“However, there are many obstacles to delivering humanitarian aid. Communication networks have been disrupted in many places, and even Libyans themselves are struggling to deliver assistance. It is important that Libya gets support on a long-term basis in addition to the current emergency relief. We should not forget Libya’s need for support once the international media and television channels turn their attention somewhere else.”

What is the significance of Finland’s support for the Libyan regions hardest hit by the floods?

“Finland has delivered material assistance in response to the Libyan authorities’ call for relief assistance. As one of the first countries to respond to Libya’s plea for assistance, Finland was also setting an example. The Finnish Red Cross, too, responded quickly.”  

“Finland’s actions have also global significance. When we channel assistance through the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism and release funds to the UN’s humanitarian agencies, we are doing our share in honing the international tools for responding to different kinds of disasters. These tools are extremely important, and our efforts to improve them signal to other countries our willingness to deliver help across borders.”

Ambassador Marjaana Sall, what is the situation in Morocco?

“Relief efforts continue in Morocco. The earthquake hit villages in the mountains the hardest, decimating entire communities and families. The first priority has been to provide emergency relief and rescue services and to deliver shelter and food. Moroccans have demonstrated admirable solidarity by donating blood, food and other vital items.”

“At the same time, Morocco also wants to look to the future, and is are already making plans for reconstruction, which will be a great challenge. Marrakesh suffered minor damages. The Medina of Marrakesh was the hardest hit, and some traditional Moroccan houses were lost. Morocco wants to demonstrate that, despite the disaster, Marrakesh is still a safe tourist destination.”

Is assistance being delivered to mountain villages?

“Although the affected mountain villages are remote and hard to reach, the Moroccan authorities have worked hard to reopen road connections. According to the Moroccan ministry responsible for infrastructure, all road connections destroyed by the earthquake had been reopened one week after the earthquake. Helicopters and donkeys have also been used to deliver relief teams and assistance to remote mountain villages.”

What role does Finland’s support play in the Moroccan disaster?

“Finland’s President and Government were quick to show solidarity with Morocco, when the scale of the disaster became evident, and this was also noticed in Morocco. The scale of the disaster is enormous, and reconstruction will take a long time. In addition to providing humanitarian assistance, Finland is also supporting Morocco through the EU and its significant programmes in the country. Discussions on how to continue to support Morocco in the long term have already begun. Hopes have been expressed for Finland’s contribution in these discussions as well.”