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Protests over mining deaths heat up in Morocco

A vigil for a Moroccan miner who died in an accident in Jerada [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 February, 2018

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A series of protests have taken place in Morocco's Jerada as out-of-work miners rummage through abandoned mines, eking out a dangerous living.
Protests over the deaths of three young Moroccan men extracting coal from abandoned mines in Jerada have picked up steam in recent weeks, according to AP.

Two brothers drowned scavenging for coal deep underground in late December, and a third man died last Thursday after a shaft collapsed in another abandoned mine in Jerada.

Thousands have protested government inaction.

"When they closed the mines they offered us new jobs and compensation but nothing has happened," one former miner told Reuters last week.

The Jerada mines closed some 20 years ago, and residents say the town has been neglected ever since.

Although cities like Marrakech, a tourist hotspot, and commercial centres including Casablanca and Rabat have thrived in recent years, economic growth has largely bypassed remote and rural areas like Jerada.

"The government is committed to giving concrete substance to the promises it has made to solve the socio-economic problems in Jerada province," said spokesman Mustapha El Khalfi, according to Morocco World News.

Last month, Morocco introduced a partial currency float that is expected to graduate into a total float within a few years. Simultaneous subsidy cuts are also increasing public dissatisfaction in Jerada.

Miners sell a bag of coal for at most 80 dirham ($8.65) to traders who then resell it for 600 dirham to restaurants, hotels and public baths.

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