A statement from SIT on the tragic earthquake in Morocco

Announcement Date: September 10, 2023   |   School for International Training

School for International Training (SIT) is shocked and saddened to hear news of the earthquake in Morocco, where we have deep community partners and many staff, faculty, and, currently, three student groups on the ground. We are relieved to be able to report that all SIT personnel and students are safe. At the same time, we mourn the loss of life and tragedy that so many are experiencing at this moment.

Since Friday, SIT teams in Morocco and the United States have been busy supporting each other, our students, and our partners and communities. Our faculty and staff in Rabat and Casablanca are grateful for the gracious expressions of support and kindness they have received from colleagues across our institution and beyond. Our faculty have also been reaching out to our program partners, including NGOs and academic colleagues from the impacted areas, to ask what we can do to support them at this incredibly difficult time. Our students have embraced the bottom-up feeling of popular solidarity across the country.

The Moroccan state has long experience managing crises, including previous earthquakes in Morocco. Moroccan emergency intervention forces have taken part in several natural catastrophes relief missions in the region including the recent earthquake in Turkey. A crisis management cell presided by King Mohammed VI has issued guidelines outlining immediate and mid-term measures for the reconstruction of the devastated villages. A bank account has been set to collect donations, and Moroccan residents abroad are mobilizing to help with the reconstruction efforts. As a sign of international solidarity and hope for rapid remediation, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank will continue with their planned annual meeting in Marrakech October 9-15, 2023, and which is expected to bring 14,000 high-level participants.

Many of the roads leading to mountainous villages that were closed by rubble have been re-opened, but a few areas near the epicenter of the earthquake in the High Atlas Mountains remain difficult to access. Military forces are on site to provide shelter, water, food, and health care for those in the mountains and an air-bridge was established to provide relief to the survivors in areas yet difficult to access. The challenge is for the reconstruction to be completed before winter snowfalls.

SIT is working closely with our student groups, who are confronting firsthand the importance of local and international solidarity as well as the impact of climate change, transnational support networks for disenfranchised communities, and relief and crisis management from a Global South perspective. We acknowledge that the context of this reflection is difficult, and emotional health support resources are being put in place for all who need them.

Our thoughts, energy, and support are with the people of Morocco.

Dr. Sophia Howlett
President, School for International Training
Brattleboro, Vermont

Dr. Said Graiouid
Provost, School for International Training
Rabat, Morocco