Residents of Morocco’s remote earthquake-hit areas are enduring dire conditions, residing in makeshift tents and relying on donkeys to transport essential supplies, while they await state aid nearly a week after the disaster.
The earthquake, measuring 6.8 in magnitude, struck the High Atlas Mountains on September 8, resulting in the loss of 2,946 lives and injuries to 5,674 individuals, according to the latest official statistics. It stands as Morocco’s deadliest quake since 1960 and the most potent in over a century.
While some larger towns have organized camps with government-issued tents and military field hospitals, portions of the rugged region continue to rely on donations left by citizens along the roadside.
Reporters from Reuters traveling along a remote road connecting Amazigh (Berber) villages observed survivors living in small tents or beneath plastic sheets, fearful of aftershocks that could further damage their homes.
“We Amazigh feel like foreigners in our country. We feel isolated. The people here are in need. They feel like they are alone,” expressed Radouen Oubella, 20, in the village of Azermoun, highlighting longstanding grievances about the marginalization of the Amazigh community in the predominantly Arab nation.
The government has claimed to be doing its utmost to assist all earthquake victims. The royal palace announced plans to provide shelter and financial support to affected households, with allocations for both collapsed and damaged homes.
Although Marrakech, which was 72 km (45 miles) from the epicenter, will host the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in October as planned, there is little evidence of assistance from authorities or a return to normalcy in Amazigh villages.
In Azermoun, supplies of food and water were being distributed and loaded onto donkeys and mules to transport them to Aoufour, approximately 15 km away, forming a slow-moving procession of people and animals.
Mohamed Zidane, 55, from Aoufour, lamented the suffering in the wake of the earthquake, emphasizing the need for tents and blankets.
In Anzelfi, where severe damage occurred, residents had established a camp with tents, blankets, rugs, and other salvaged items while they awaited government assistance.
“We are still waiting for the government to help us,” said Mohamed Oufkir, 30, expressing concerns about flooding during rain and the bitter cold at night.
In Tagsdirt, Ibrahim Meghashi’s home remained standing but displayed significant damage. Fearing another earthquake, he and his family, including three daughters, had set up an improvised tent.
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“We are very scared. Life here is becoming harder. It is cold. We no longer have a home and we fear there will be another earthquake,” said Meghashi, 39, expressing a sense of marginalization and anger toward the government.