PARIS: France is to give non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Morocco €5 million (US$5.4 million) to help the country deal with the aftermath of the powerful earthquake that hit the country on Friday, reported German news agency (dpa).

Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna told broadcaster BFMTV that the aid would be channelled to Moroccan, international and French aid organisations active on the ground.

Initially, Morocco did not accept a French offer to send rescue workers to the regions hit by the quake, which killed at least 2,100 people. This provoked a debate in France, where many Moroccans live.

Colonna dismissed the idea that political tension between the two countries was a reason for refusing the offer, stressing that Morocco was a sovereign country and had had offers of help from more than 60 countries.

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said he did not believe politics had obstructed the provision of aid. He told TF 2 public radio that Morocco and France were “brother countries”.

Morocco has a good civil defence system and is capable of dealing with the situation itself, he said.

Darmanin, meanwhile, did not confirm that Morocco’s King Mohammed VI was in France when the earthquake hit. The newspaper Le Parisien reported that the king had been in France for medical reasons since Sept 1. - Bernama

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