US Treasury’s Yellen pledges support for Morocco’s quake recovery efforts

By David Lawder

MARRAKECH, Morocco (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Tuesday said her government, the International Monetary Fund (IMF)and the World Bank would support Morocco’s earthquake rebuilding efforts, praising the country’s resilience in hosting the institutions’ annual meetings this week.

“We stand ready to help in any way that is helpful as you go about the rebuilding process,” Yellen told reporters in Marrakech, reading handwritten remarks.

She did not specify what assistance would be offered but added that support for Morocco would be discussed at the IMF and World Bank meetings in Marrakech.

“In the midst of all that Morocco has suffered, it really is a testament to the resilience of this community that you’re able to host a gathering as large as the international meetings of the IMF and World Bank taking place here this week,” Yellen said.

Yellen toured the Bin Youssef high school in Marrakech, which was quick to take on students displaced from damaged schools in villages hit by the Sept. 8 earthquake. She said the effort was “incredibly impressive” and showed the importance of education in Morocco.

The 6.8-magnitude quake in the High Atlas Mountains killed more than 2,900 people and damaged 2,930 villages with a combined population of 2.8 million people, according to the Moroccan government. Some 60,000 homes were damaged, with over 30% completely destroyed.

Morocco’s suffering will be on the minds of meeting participants, “as we discuss the work of international institutions to stand ready to help Morocco and other countries that can be affected by such severe shocks,” added Yellen, who controls the dominant U.S. shareholding in both institutions.

The IMF in late September approved a $1.3 billion loan to Morocco from its new Resilience and Sustainability Trust to help it cope with climate disasters and resilience, a program not directly related to the earthquake tragedy. Morocco also has a $5 billion IMF flexible credit line that it can draw on.

(Reporting by David Lawder and Deborah Kyvrikosaios)