France: Morocco is a Sovereign Country and Knows What it Needs to Face the Al-Houz Earthquake

The French Foreign Minister clarifies that Rabat did not reject the assistance offered by her country. emphasizing that diplomatic communications between the two nations remain unbroken. France downplayed the controversy surrounding aid to Morocco following the Al-Houz earthquake. which left hundreds dead and wounded. It stated that the debate was misplaced. while some linked Rabat’s cautiousness in accepting international aid to the authorities’ insistence on evaluating needs to make aid meaningful. causing a strain in Franco-Moroccan relations.

However, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said on Monday that it’s up to Morocco to request French assistance in dealing with its worst earthquake in over six decades. She affirmed that France is ready to help if asked.

Relations between Paris and Rabat have been strained in recent years, especially concerning the issue of Moroccan Sahara. which Morocco wants France to recognize as part of its territory. There has been no Moroccan ambassador in Paris since January.

France has also adopted a cautious diplomatic approach with Rabat as it seeks to improve relations with Algeria. its former colonial power and a rival to Morocco. Algeria supports the separatist Polisario Front.

The French hesitancy to declare a clear position on the Moroccan Sahara conflict and the autonomy initiative under Moroccan sovereignty has led to fluctuations in relations. However, Paris consistently emphasizes that diplomatic communication with the Kingdom continues and has not been severed, speaking of strategic relations despite their ups and downs.

Colonna told BFMTV when asked why Morocco had not formally requested urgent assistance from Paris. despite accepting aid from Spain, Britain, Qatar, and the UAE. “This is a misplaced debate.” adding, “We are ready to help Morocco. It’s a Moroccan sovereign decision, and the decision is theirs.” She stressed that Rabat had not rejected French assistance.

Colonna stated that France has allocated five million euros (5.4 million dollars) for non-governmental organizations operating in Morocco. explaining that this aid is earmarked for humanitarian organizations working “on the ground” and will be disbursed from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs reserves.

She pointed out that many non-governmental organizations have begun working in the Kingdom to assist the population in dealing with the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that claimed the lives of over two thousand people.

French officials have repeatedly sought to downplay any dispute between the two countries. but a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to Rabat was postponed several times last year. However. Colonna clarified that King Mohammed VI was in France at the time of the earthquake.

emphasized that Rabat is “the only one capable of determining its needs and the pace at which these needs should be met” .and expressed confidence in the Moroccan authorities to organize rescue operations as they see fit.

She further emphasized that diplomatic relations have not been severed and that Macron has communicated with King Mohammed VI “several times” during the summer. She also maintained contact with her counterpart, Nasser Bourita.

Colonna concluded, “Communication has taken place at all levels. Let’s put diplomatic tensions aside. People are suffering. People need help.”

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin had earlier stated in an interview with France 2 on Monday that Morocco is a “brotherly” country and has the capacity to handle relief efforts on its own. Four French citizens were among the casualties of the earthquake that claimed more than 2,100 lives.

 has over 51,000 citizens living in the Kingdom. according to data from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Migration .and Demographic Observatory estimates that there are approximately 1.5 million Moroccans living in France. including 670,000 who hold dual nationality.

On Sunday, Morocco accepted aid offers from the United Kingdom, Spain, Qatar. and the UAE to deal with the consequences of the earthquake. while French President Emmanuel Macron affirmed on Sunday that his country is ready to assist whenever Morocco “requests” it.

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