By Larbi Arbaoui
By Larbi Arbaoui
Morocco World News
Taroudant, December 11, 2012
The cold wave that affected Morocco for a few weeks, due to a mass of polar air that came from Eastern and Central Europe and the heavy snowfall blanketed the Atlas and high Atlas Mountains will probably remain for a long time. Consequently the suffering of the mountainous villagers will perpetuate until grass is seen on the land again. At the beginning of each winter, the people of the Atlas Mountains go through the same miserable and wretched conditions. To remain alive with very limited resources and equipment on these glacial isolated areas is really a challenge that only few escape with minimal damage and losses.
When it snows in the Atlas Mountains, there is no respite from the cold wave and icy winds, as temperature in these higher altitudes reaches around the freezing point. For many people, the scene of the falling of snow and its wonderful sight on trees, adobe houses and on the hills is an exciting and breathtaking view, but for the poor villagers who in the mountains, it is an ominous ugly view foreshadowing pain and death.
Lower temperatures experienced by the region recently highlighted, once again, the suffering of the people scattered all over the mountainous regions, who lack adequate equipment to deal with this biting cold. The beginning of a new cold season places a heavy burden on poor families who hardly can afford the basic necessities of life, let alone be able to buy firewood that is a must-have to keep their houses warm at night. Now that the government has prohibited the villagers to collect firewood in the nearby forest- for fear of hewing tress- firewood costs an arm and a leg and, sadly, people have but to suffer in silence, with dignity. Apart from the usual cold, such needy families are likely to have rheumatism and other diseases exacerbated by the freezing temperatures.
The images of small children with next to nothing on their skinny bodies went viral on social media. The most striking image is that of a little boy on the snow wearing only sandals and wrapped in a plastic bag to warm himself at the lack of winter coats. Another heartbreaking picture is that of a video on YouTube showing a little boy painfully crying in the classroom because of the unbearable cold that chilled his hands. When the teacher asked him the reason why he was not writing, he replied sobbing, in his mother tongue “Kormn iy fassen” which means, “my hands are frozen”. One may wonder how students can learn uncomfortably inside a frigid room that lacks the requirements of a motivating learning environment.
Coincidently, United Nations officials yesterday (Dec 10) marked Human Rights Day by declaring that that everyone has the right to be heard and to shape the decisions that affect their lives and communities. On this occasion, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said “International law is clear: No matter who you are, or where you live, your voice counts.” How aspiring these words are! But could the outcry of these poor mountain people, who every winter have to bear the biting cold, reach the ears and touch the heart of those in authority?