From Rif to Atlas: Youth-led NGO crosses Morocco to support rural tribes | Earthquakes News


When he obtained the decision concerning the earthquake that struck close to Marrakesh, Mohamed was 4 hours away from the Rif – his dwelling – in Fes visiting his spouse within the hospital.

It was Sidi Massinissa on the cellphone, telling him that the Rif Tribes Basis was sending assist to the Atlas Mountains area, so Mohamed jumped in his automobile to drive the 4 hours north to al-Hoceima and be a part of the workforce effort.

Al-Hoceima is the place the Rif Tribes Basis relies, a grassroots organisation working to help the Amazigh individuals of Morocco’s Rif area, an underdeveloped space that lacks companies like good hospitals, forcing Mohamed to drive for hours to see his spouse within the hospital she was admitted to.

Irrespective of, when he acquired the decision to motion, Mohamed felt energised. “When Massinissa known as me, the very first thing I considered was serving to our brothers within the Atlas,” he advised Al Jazeera.

Echoes of the previous

Sidi Massinissa of the Rif, the great-grandson of an anticolonial fighter, based the Rif Tribes Basis to advance the Amazigh group, which he is part of.

When he heard of the devastating earthquake on September 9, it introduced on a way of deja vu, like he had had this occur to him earlier than.

Certainly, he had, however not precisely the identical means. On February 24, 2004, he and his household have been woke up by tremors and the sound of individuals screaming and buildings falling within the metropolis of al-Hoceima within the northeast Rif Mountains.

Despite the fact that he was a baby on the time, he remembered the panic, unhappiness and helplessness of that second 19 years in the past nicely sufficient that when he heard of what hit Marrakesh, the emotions got here dashing again.

So he determined that his organisation, primarily based in al-Hoceima, would work to assist the agricultural tribes of the Atlas rural tribes who have been being affected by an unprecedented disaster and begging for assist.

After launching an enormous fundraising marketing campaign – supported by celebrities, socialites, artists, and artwork and trend homes – the Rif Tribes Basis raised greater than 200,000 euros ($214,000) to purchase and transport provides from the Rif to the Atlas Mountains.

Driving greater than a day to the Amazigh village of Taroudant, to the south of the mountains, the organisation arrange base on Friday with their convoy of provides.

The plan was to coordinate and ship support to essentially the most distant and remoted villages, specializing in areas but to be reached by a lot of the state and large organisations, which concentrated in Marrakesh and close by areas. Their plan was to achieve out to the remoted Amazigh communities, the place street situations have been making entry tough.

To this point, they’ve reached the villages of Talgjount, Timlit, Tibit and Igli, distributing meals, hygiene merchandise, blankets and mattresses to lots of of households – massive tents to quickly home the various made homeless by the quake are on their means.

Rif Tribes Foundation volunteers distributing supplies in the village of Aït Si Allal [Bianca Carrera/Al Jazeera]
Rif Tribes Basis volunteers distributing provides within the village of Ait Si Allal [Anass Ouaziz/Al Jazeera]

‘Ours and their area are each marginalised’

The street from Taroudant to Igli is a very tough one for the Rif Tribes workforce, taking Mohamed two hours via difficult roads to lastly get there. However, being from the hilly Rif, he’s used to the manoeuvres such driving requires.

He’s comfortable to be doing this work although. “Each our areas are marginalised; we don’t have something, however we’re one individuals. I got here right here, not realizing after I can return to my spouse and youngsters, however that is all I may give,” Mohamed mentioned with tears in his eyes.

Lalla Ghizlan Baryala, an Amazigh activist from the Center Atlas area, advised Al Jazeera she is grateful for this solidarity in direction of her area, which like Mohamed, she says is usually forgotten.

“The Amazigh tribes and households that dwell within the Atlas should not nicely situated […] in reality, we from Atlas at all times say that we’re a forgotten area, the deep Morocco that doesn’t retain the eye of the state.

“Till issues like an earthquake occur, individuals don’t realise that there are these social, cultural, financial and medical deficiencies, as has been so palpable on this event,” Lalla mentioned indignantly, including that she hopes this occasion will make each native authorities and the skin world take the agricultural communities extra into consideration.

A historical past of shared battle

In reality, lengthy stretches of the Atlas Mountains sorely lack medical services. A medical emergency on regular events is compounded by the truth that the villagers typically can’t even attain a hospital, provided that they often personal little greater than livestock as a method of transportation.

The Rif additionally suffers an analogous actuality. Regardless of being the world with essentially the most most cancers sufferers in Morocco because of the legacy of Spanish chemical bombardment in 1921, massive hospitals {and professional} medical gear are solely to be discovered hours away down the street.

That’s the reason, for instance, Mohamed has to drive 4 hours from al-Hoceima to Fes each time he visits his spouse on the hospital.

Sharing a historical past of isolation, each areas protested, demanding visibility, in 2017.

It began in al-Hoceima on the finish of 2016 as a wave of protests dubbed the Hirak targeted on the shortage of infrastructure, hospitals, faculties and job alternatives. And it continued within the Atlas, the place lots of determined to march 97km (60 miles) via mountain roads to protest in opposition to marginalisation and social exclusion.

This shared battle made it very simple for victims to attach with Rif Tribes Basis volunteers.

“Individuals have been very grateful we got here all the best way from the Rif to assist,” says Massinissa.

“They advised us they nonetheless bear in mind when the identical occurred to us again in 2004, and that they knew that Rifians can be the primary individuals to grasp what was happening and what the wants have been within the rural communities.”

In reality, different associations and groups of volunteers from the Rif had already visited some Atlas villages to offer help throughout the first days of the earthquake earlier than the Rif Tribes Basis arrived, villagers advised Massinissa.

“From the Rif to the Atlas, United as One” is a slogan the youth-led Basis is utilizing on social media to mirror the spirit of its mission and its individuals who share a dedication that doesn’t finish within the Rif, extending to all different tribal and marginalised communities of the nation.

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