In the past week, North Africa has witnessed two major disasters: catastrophic flooding in Libya and a massive earthquake in Morocco.
On September 8, 2023, at 23:11 local time, a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck Morocco, southwest of Marrakesh. Nearly 3,000 deaths have been reported, with more expected. Widespread damage, including the destruction of historic landmarks in Marrakesh, has occurred. The World Health Organization estimates that about 300,000 people from Marrakesh and the surrounding areas have been affected. Morocco is a predominantly Muslim country, but the small Christian community is offering assistance. Indigenous Moroccan Christian converts from Islam can only meet secretly in small groups in their homes. Through our connections with Christian partners serving in Morocco, we aim to provide food, blankets, clothes, and medicines to the affected areas.
On Sunday, September 10, Storm Daniel, an unusually strong Mediterranean storm, hit Libya, causing deadly flooding in towns across eastern Libya, with the worst-hit being Derna. As the storm pounded the coast, residents heard loud explosions when two dams outside the city collapsed. Floodwaters rushed through the valley that cuts through the city, destroying buildings and washing people out to sea. The death toll from the floods now exceeds 11,000 as search efforts continue. The Libyan Red Crescent reports that over 10,000 people are missing in the coastal city. The floods have also displaced at least 30,000 people in Derna, according to the United Nations' International Organization for Migration, and several thousand others were forced to leave their homes in other eastern towns. The floods have damaged or destroyed many access roads to Derna, hampering the arrival of international rescue teams and humanitarian assistance. International aid has begun to arrive in the country to support local rescue workers.
Libya remains politically divided after a decade of civil conflict that began with the overthrow of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's government in 2011. Open Doors' 2023 Persecution Watchlist ranks the country as the fifth nation with the most extreme persecution of Christians in the world. The nation has a long history of restricting information regarding Christianity, with harsh apostasy judgments on any Libyan national considering converting to Christianity. In April of this year, two American schoolteachers accused of being "missionaries inviting Muslim Libyans to convert to Christianity" were detained and deported to Tunisia. There are also reports of two Libyan Christians associated with them being arrested and condemned for apostasy. The exact number of Christians in Libya is unknown, but it is very small.
Please pray for both Morocco and Libya during this time of crisis. Pray that the humanitarian aid so desperately needed reaches those who need it the most. Also, pray for those seeking answers to this tragedy, that they may find hope in Christ.
We encourage you to consider giving to support relief efforts in these countries. Through our sister organizations, we have partners working in these countries who can use our financial support to aid those in need. Gifts channeled through GC Aid will help provide for the needs of these people. To contribute to GC Aid, please visit GC3 | Donate for giving instructions. Additionally, please remember that a gift to GC Aid will qualify for tax credits in personal tax returns.