Paris — The French government said on Monday it had pledged five million euros ($5.4 million) to aid organisations on site in Morocco after a devastating earthquake there.
The money will go to aid organisations already active in the disaster zone, Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna told the BFM broadcaster.
Colonna brushed off questions about the absence of any official Moroccan request for aid from France.
Morocco is “sovereign” and “alone entitled to determine what its needs are”, she said.
Relations between France and Morocco are strained, notably because of French President Emmanuel Macron’s efforts to forge closer ties with Algeria, Morocco’s neighbour.
A planned visit by Macron to Morocco has still to be confirmed, and Morocco’s ambassador post in France has been empty for months.
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TWEET TRANSLATION: Morocco: Catherine Colonna (@MinColonna), Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs announces that France will deploy 5 million euros for NGOs on site
Asked why Morocco had accepted official aid from Spain and the United Kingdom among others, but not France, Colonna said “this debate is inappropriate”.
“People are suffering. People need help,” she said.
On Sunday, the head of a French rescue charity said Moroccan authorities were preventing its teams, which were ready to provide emergency aid, from entering the country.
Arnaud Fraisse, head of the Secouristes sans Frontieres organisation, told the France Inter broadcaster that aid workers had hoped to get on a flight to Morocco on Sunday.
“Unfortunately we still don’t have the go-ahead from the Moroccan government,” he said.
The earthquake killed more than 2 100 people and injured more than 2 400, according to official figures.