Bord Foren

logo-news

Anger boils in Morocco’s earthquake zone as protesters demand promised emergency aid

AMIZMIZ, Morocco (AP) — Hundreds of protesters on Tuesday took to the streets of a city near the epicenter of a devastating earthquake that hit Morocco last month to express anger and frustration after weeks of waiting for emergency assistance.

Flanked by honking cars and motorcycles, demonstrators in the High Atlas town of Amizmiz chanted against the government as law enforcement tried to contain the crowds. The protest followed a worker’s strike and torrential weekend storms that exacerbated hardship for residents living in tents near the remains of their former homes.

“Amizmiz is down!,” men yelled in Tachelhit, Morocco’s most widely spoken Indigenous language.

Entire neighborhoods were leveled by the Sept. 8 quake, forcing thousands to relocate to temporary shelters. In Amizmiz and the surrounding villages of Morocco’s Al Haouz province, nearly everyone lost a family member or friend.

Other news
90 5613No charges for man who fired gun near pro-Palestinian rally outside Chicago, prosecutor saysDemonstrators pull down a barricade during a protest against a recently approved mining contract between the government and Canadian mining company First Quantum, outside the National Assembly in Panama City, Monday, Oct. 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)Protesters march in Panama against the contract extension for a huge copper mineFILE Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is seen on a TV screen as he appears in a video link provided by the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service from the colony in Melekhovo, Vladimir region, during a hearing at the Russian Supreme Court in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, June 22, 2023. A court in Russia has upheld a 19 year prison sentence against imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. He was found guilty of charges of extremism at a hearing in August. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)Imprisoned Kremlin foe Navalny refuses to leave his cell and skips a court hearing as a protest

Tuesday’s protest was initially organized by a group called Amizmiz Earthquake Victims’ Coordination to draw attention to “negligence by local and regional officials” and to denounce how some residents had been excluded from emergency aid.

“The state of the camps is catastrophic,” Mohamed Belhassan, the coordinator of the group told the Moroccan news site Hespress.

The group, however, called off its planned march after meeting with local authorities who ultimately pledged to address their concerns. Despite the organizers’ cancellation, hundreds still took to the streets to protest the conditions.

READ:   Whether Jim Jordan wins the speakership or not, voters in his Ohio district will stand by their man

Protesters waved Moroccan flags and directed their anger toward the way local authorities have failed to provide the emergency assistance announced by Moroccan King Mohammed VI’s Royal Cabinet. They chanted “Long Live the King” but implored him to visit Amizmiz to check on how local authorities were carrying out his decrees. They protested about a need for dignity and justice, decrying years of marginalization.

In the earthquake’s aftermath, Morocco convened a commission and formed a special recovery fund. The government announced earlier this month that it had begun disbursing initial monthly payments of 2,500 Moroccan dirhams ($242) and planned to later provide up to 140,000 dirhams ($13,600) to rebuild destroyed homes.

Residents of Amizmiz told The Associated Press earlier this month that although many had given authorities their contact information, most households had not yet received emergency cash assistance. In Amizmiz, which had 14,299 residents according to Morocco’s most recent census, many worry about shelter as winter in the Atlas Mountains approaches.

A trailer-based banking unit began operating in the town square in the aftermath of the earthquake. Local officials collected phone numbers to send banking codes to allow residents get their cash. For many, the subsequent delays were the final straw, Belhassan told Hespress.

The Amizmiz protest over delays in aid comes after Morocco faced criticism for accepting limited aid from only four foreign governments several days after the earthquake killed a reported 2,901 people. Officials said the decision was intended to prevent clogged roads and chaos in days critical for emergency response. Search and rescue crews unable to reach the country expressed frustration for not getting the green light from the Moroccan government.

READ:   Palestinians scramble to find food, safety and water as Israeli ground invasion looms