Last week, two brothers died in a tunnel accident, 85 metres (90 yards) below ground, sparking days of mass protests in the impoverished city. Thousands of people protested Tuesday (December 26) against economic marginalisation, accusing authorities of "abandoning" them. "The people want an economic alternative," demonstrators chanted, carrying Moroccan flags on their shoulders and insisting that their protests were peaceful.
The mine was the economic lifeblood of Jerada, employing some 9,000 workers, until it was shut down in the late 1990s by authorities who argued it was too expensive to run. Thousands of people have since left the city and the population has fallen from 60,000 to fewer than 45,000. Despite the mine being shuttered, young people continue to brave the pits with little safety equipment, extracting coal by hand for sale to local traders.
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