The images of traumatised families, grieving dead relatives and friends, often forced to camp in the open close to the rubble of their collapsed homes has become a depressingly familiar sight on our TV screens this year.

In February, almost 50,000 died when Türkiye and Syria suffered two massive earthquakes.

Nine days ago, almost 3,000 people lost their lives in Morocco after another quake close to Marrakech. Then, with the world still taking in this terrible news, a huge surge of flood water from collapsed dams took the lives of up to 20,000 Libyans in Derna.

I was part of a REACT Disaster Response reconnaissance team on the ground in Morocco when the news from Libya came through. The world’s humanitarian aid system was already struggling, with the Turkish earthquakes and the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Sudan, when North Africa suffered this deadly double blow.

In Morocco our small team, in conjunction with local agencies, was making a rapid assessment of the immediate needs. We focused on shelter, warm clothing, food and water supplies, and good waste management to prevent disease outbreaks.

Once again, as we navigated our way through streets of collapsed and damaged buildings, I witnessed the strength of remarkable people faced with the direst of situations. Their resilience is incredible. I never fail to be amazed by a population’s ability to absorb and recover from such terrible shocks.

High up in the Atlas Mountains, only a few hours’ drive from Marrakech, there has been terrible suffering. Entire, often extremely remote villages are gone. Bewildered survivors struggling to comprehend the loss of loved ones, their homes, their livelihoods.

REACT is responding to their immediate needs first. As I write, our volunteers are assisting locals to dig latrines – essential to prevent water borne diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, and dysentery.

Others are investigating the best methods of providing good, temporary shelter and getting it there as fast as possible.

Our charity prides itself on repurposing the hard-earned skills and experience of military veterans, ex “blue light” professionals and humanitarians and turning them into exceptionally agile and resilient disaster Responders.

For us, it is an absolute privilege to be able to help the hardest to reach and the most vulnerable people affected by disaster.

It also helps us all realise how fortunate we are. Within a few hours of landing back in the UK, I was hugging my wife and kids.

Meanwhile there are thousands and thousands of people in Morocco and Libya who have lost everything and are now forced to try and pick themselves up and start again. Imagine just how hard that must be.

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