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How to help those affected by the Morocco earthquake and Libya flood

NEW YORK (AP) — International aid groups have mobilized in Morocco, where a 6.8 magnitude earthquake Friday night has killed 2,681 and injured more than 2,500, and Libya, where thousands are reported dead and more than 10,000 still missing from weekend flooding. Donors, both big and small, are also mobilizing to support those relief efforts.

Experts say the most direct way to provide aid to those affected in both countries is to donate to organizations that already have operations on the ground in those countries.

In Morocco, where the earthquake was centered in the Atlas Mountains, that takes on additional importance because so far the Moroccan government has accepted governmental aid from only four nations — Spain, Qatar, Britain and the United Arab Emirates — as it tries to avoid a “counterproductive” lack of coordination.

In Libya, where Mediterranean storm Daniel dumped nearly 16 inches of rain on Eastern Libya and caused two dams near the city of Derna to fail, many worry the fact that the country has two governments supported by different countries may slow rescue and recovery efforts.

“We are just seeing the scale and severity of disasters from natural hazards increasing and that is putting a drain on resources — both financial and human resources — and also, I'll be honest, empathy,” said Patricia McIlreavy, CEO of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.

Recovery from these events could take years, McIlreavy said, and encouraged people to consider longer-term, unrestricted giving rather than rushing to give immediately when conditions are still rapidly changing.

Michael Thatcher, president and CEO of Charity Navigator, which evaluates and rates nonprofits, said getting aid into Libya may be challenging due to ongoing sanctions the United States has placed against the country. Generally, those sanctions are waived following a natural disaster, as they were for Syria earlier this year following a deadly earthquake there.

Thatcher said larger international nonprofits, like The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), will have an easier time navigating sanctions than a smaller, U.S. nonprofit with no previous interaction with the Libyan governments.

“Getting $100 into Libya is hard,” he said. “Getting $100 to Doctors Without Borders or World Vision or another one of those large, well-established charities to use in Libya is much easier because they already have third parties that are working with them there.”

Charity Navigator has assembled a list of nonprofits that work in Libya, Thatcher said.

Here are some groups that have responded and are looking for additional support:

— The IFRC quickly responded to both disasters. It released $1.1 million from its Disaster Response Emergency Fund to support Moroccan Red Crescent relief efforts in the country and on Tuesday launched an appeal to raise $112 million more. “We expect this initial release of money to make a difference on the ground," said Dr. Hossam Elsharkawi, IFRC's regional director of Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement. "It will be used to buy essential supplies locally in Morocco. The people in the Moroccan Red Crescent know their communities best, and know best what is needed.” Tamer Ramadan, Libya envoy for the IFRC, told a U.N. briefing in Geneva that the situation in Libya was “as devastating as the situation in Morocco.”

— World Central Kitchen is teaming with Moroccan volunteers to provide food and water in the remote areas hardest hit by the earthquake. However, World Central Kitchen founder Jose Andres said the group's helicopters are doing double duty, dropping off supplies in those areas and evacuating injured people on their return trips.

— Doctors Without Borders has sent 10 staff members to Morocco to assess what the local hospital needs are and how the organization can support the Moroccan government with supplies or logistics. Though Doctors Without Borders announced plans to end medical activities in Tripoli last month, it continues to provide medical care and humanitarian assistance in other parts of the country.

— CARE, which has been working in Morocco since 2008 to help people get access to basic services, has launched the Morocco Earthquake Emergency Fund, which it says will prioritize providing women and girls, youth, and disadvantaged groups food and shelter.

— GlobalGiving's Morocco Earthquake Relief Fund had raised nearly $560,000 by Tuesday afternoon to provide food, water and shelter to those who have lost their homes in the earthquake, as well as supporting long-term recovery efforts.

— Islamic Relief has already pledged 100,000 British pounds ($125,000) for Libya relief efforts and has launched the Libya Floods Emergency Appeal to raise more funds to give local humanitarian organizations to use for affected communities.

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Associated Press coverage of philanthropy and nonprofits receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content. For all of AP’s philanthropy coverage, visit https://apnews.com/hub/philanthropy.

Glenn Gamboa, The Associated Press