Devastated Libya, Morocco communities cut off from internet


Floods that rendered Libya a disaster. Photo by Reuters

from MOHAMED EL KADIRI in Marrakesh, Morocco
Morocco Bureau
MARRAKESH, (CAJ News) – AREAS hit by the tragedies in Libya and Morocco have more calamity to contend with, in the form of subdued network connectivity.

This is hampering humanitarian intervention as the two North African countries reel from catastrophic flooding and a devastating magnitude 6,8 earthquake respectively in recent days.

Both calamities, in addition to claiming thousands of lives, left massive damage on their trail, with telecommunications infrastructure not spared.

Crisis Ready noted that network connectivity remains notably low in the rural regions hit hardest by the earthquake in Morocco. The Atlas Mountains region was worst affected by the quake that left about 3 people dead and 5 500 wounded.

“Due to this sparse connectivity, population estimates based on mobile application data in these rural areas may not be fully representative,” said an official at the think-tank.

In contrast, urban areas like Marrakesh and Taroudant have a high proportion of Facebook users. Users with location services range between 10 percent and 20 percent of the total city populations, according to Crisis Ready.

The think-tank said public data aligns with these observations, estimating the Facebook user base in Morocco to be between 55 percent and 60 percent.

NetBlocks, the watchdog organization monitoring cyber security and the governance of the internet, also confirmed real-time network data also showed a disruption to internet connectivity particularly in Marrakesh.

It stated the outages are attributed to power cuts in the region.

Maroc Telecom is encouraging subscribers to donate and complement humanitarian efforts in response to the earthquake.

Orange reports that it has mobilised its teams on the ground throughout Morocco to ensure the continuity of all of its services.

NetBlocks reported that in Libya, metrics showed a significant decline in internet connectivity in the eastern Libyan town of Derna as a result of Storm Daniel.

The Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development confirms communication is also complicated due to electricity, telephone and internet connections being cut off.

Official figures indicate over 5 000 people have died but it is estimated more than 11 000 have perished.

Derna suffered the worst damage of the storm as dams collapsed and neighbourhoods were submerged.

On a good note, the country’s largest operator, Libyana, reported that network services had been restored to a number of regions where it was impacted.

In areas still suffering outages, it assured, “maintenance work is continuing around the clock to ensure the network is restored as quickly as possible.”

It is also appealing for subscribers to donate to boost humanitarian response efforts.

The Libyan floods death toll is widely believed to exceed 20,000 while Morocco’s earthquake claimed 2,900 lives with 5,500 others injured.

– CAJ News

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