Miner deaths spark protests in Morocco's east

Miner deaths spark protests in Morocco's east
Thousands protest over living conditions in the city of Jerada after two brothers die while illegally mining.
1 min read
26 December, 2017
Protests continued through from Friday until Monday in the city of Jerada [AFP]

Thousands of people protested in Morocco's eastern city of Jerada on Monday following the recent deaths of two young coal miners.

The two brothers, aged 23 and 30, died while carrying out a clandestine dig at an abandoned coal mine on Friday.

The unrest began on Friday, when relatives of the victims and local residents railed against perceived inadequacies in the local emergency services' rescue efforts.

According to Moroccan media outlets, the rescue operation took as long as 36 hours.

Protests continued on Saturday and Sunday and came to a head at the funeral of the brothers on Monday, which was attended by thousands.

After a general strike, protesters headed down to the city's centre and demanded improvements to living conditions in Jerada.

Once a flourishing mining city in the early 20th century, Jerada has fallen behind since mines that employed thousands of people were closed in the late 1990s.

Despite this, clandestine mining activity in the city has continued.

Prime Minister Saad Eddine el-Othmani has said in parliament that an investigation is underway into the deaths of the two brothers and the rescue efforts that followed.

Moroccan lawmakers have also called for an end to illegal mining in the city and for improvements to living conditions.