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Amizmiz Residents Continue Protest Over Delayed Earthquake Aid
Residents demand urgent earthquake aid amidst lingering discontent and delayed assistance efforts.
Hundreds of Amizmiz residents persisted in their protest against local authorities on Tuesday, decrying the sluggish response to the devastating earthquake that struck their town weeks ago. The 8th of September earthquake, the most severe to hit Morocco in over six decades, wreaked havoc on Amizmiz, a town located 34 miles (55 kilometers) south of Marrakesh.
The disaster resulted in nearly 3,000 fatalities and left thousands more injured and homeless. The aggrieved residents accuse local authorities of failing to provide timely aid and neglecting their plight.
In the wake of the earthquake, authorities established tented camps for displaced families, accompanied by pledges of financial assistance to aid in the reconstruction of their homes. However, the protesters contend that living conditions in the camps are deteriorating, with inclement weather conditions such as heavy rains and strong winds battering the region as winter looms.
Furthermore, the protesters accuse local authorities of withholding essential assistance, including tents, from some residents who lost their homes. Despite the withdrawal of the Amizmiz Earthquake Victims' Coordination group, the organizers of the protest, it proceeded as planned on Tuesday.
The group had withdrawn after local authorities promised to address their concerns, vowing to expedite aid delivery, provide new tents to those previously left without, and support those whose tents had been damaged by harsh weather. They also committed to enhancing sanitation at the camps and ensuring displaced individuals have access to water and electricity.
Last month, Morocco's King Mohammed VI announced a substantial 120 billion Moroccan dirhams ($11.6 billion; £9.4 billion) commitment over five years to rebuild earthquake-affected regions and support more than 4.2 million impacted people. This initiative includes providing 140,000 dirhams in reconstruction aid to each household with a collapsed home and 80,000 dirhams for each household with partially damaged homes. Additionally, the government recently initiated a cash relief program, disbursing 2,500 dirhams in monthly assistance to each affected household.
Criticism arose after Morocco initially declined international aid offers in the aftermath of the earthquake, despite the desperate need for urgent assistance. Activist Maati Mounjib emphasized the importance of accepting aid during disasters, citing that even developed countries seek outside help in such situations.
The Amizmiz protest went ahead despite the cancellation of the planned march by the organizing group. Protesters took to the streets, brandishing Moroccan flags, and expressing their discontent with local authorities' handling of King Mohammed VI's announced emergency assistance. Their chants of "Long Live the King" were accompanied by pleas for the monarch to visit Amizmiz and ensure that his decrees were being implemented effectively. The protesters underscored their demand for dignity and justice, highlighting years of marginalization.
In the aftermath of the earthquake, a trailer-based banking unit was set up in the town square, where local officials collected phone numbers to send banking codes, enabling residents to access their cash. However, many residents grew frustrated with the ensuing delays, marking a breaking point in their patience.
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