People from a Moroccan community in the UK say they are “overwhelmed” by community efforts for emergency relief after Friday’s earthquake.
Trowbridge in Wiltshire has one of the largest Moroccan communities in England, with 1,000 residents from a Moroccan background.
At least 2,681 people were killed in the 6.8 magnitude quake at the weekend.
Trowbridge mayor Stephen Cooper has urged the town to come together to help the aid effort.
“The Moroccan community here – they are embedded in our town. They’re our friends and neighbours,” he said.
The impact of the earthquake has been felt in Trowbridge, with communities concerned for friends and family back home.
Ismail Negraj, from the Trowbridge Mosque, said he is overwhelmed by the amount of support from the local community who have reached out to help the cause.
“So far online we’ve raised about £1k between both Moroccans and everyone else,” said Mr Negraj.
The Mosque has also managed to raise £2k in cash donations. They plan to buy goods to distribute into Morocco.
Mr Negraj said: “It’s honestly overwhelming. We weren’t thinking this support would come like this.”
Abdel Boutarfas, from the Trowbridge Moroccan Group, says he was devastated to hear the news about the earthquake.
“Nobody expected this. The overwhelming problems are the logistics of getting help to the people in the Atlas Mountains,” said Mr Boutarfas.
“The roads are destroyed, people are resorting to primitive ways of transporting help, mules, donkeys. People on the ground are using whatever they can. It’s a horrific time.”
He says his family live in the north east of the country, and feels fortunate they were not affected by the earthquake.
“[We felt] scared, fear, anxiety. We were all on red alert, panicking,” said Ms Rafika Boutarfas.
She says she is thankful that her family are safe, but for many others the news has not been so good.
“It’s a real disaster, a real tragedy. A natural tragedy that no one was expecting.
“On a whole, everyone’s come together uniting trying to help people in Morocco. We’re strong people. We’ll try and unite and support each other through it.”
For years, Trowbridge has had strong ties with Morocco and mayor Mr Cooper says the town must come together to help the Moroccan community.
“They have been here for generations. We need to come together as a town to help our own community and our own friends.
“Trowbridge has a very proud of history of coming together to help people in need. In this case, we’re not even helping strangers. We’re helping our own community. They are part of us.”
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