Monday, January 24, 2022

Victims of the deadly New York City fire will be remembered on Sunday

Plans are underway for a large communal memorial service on Sunday for the victims of New York City’s worst fire in more than three decades.

Seventeen people, including eight children, were killed on January 9 when a fire broke out in a high-rise residential building in the working-class Fordham Heights neighborhood in the Bronx, a New York borough of a large African and Latino community.

On Wednesday, funerals were held for 12-year-old Sedou Tore and her sister, five-year-old Hawa Mahamadou, at a mosque in the Haarlem neighborhood.

Community leaders are preparing to remember the remaining 15 victims, all of whom were from the West African country of The Gambia, on Sunday, a week after the tragic fires.

According to the imam of Masjid-ur-Rahma, Moses Kabbah, the funeral will take place at the Islamic Cultural Center in the Bronx. He said the mosque is the place where the families of some of the victims are gathering to mourn.

Kaba also said that funeral planning has been complicated by the difficult task of identifying the dead and contacting relatives.

Advocates said at a recent news conference that community workers are calling for more help for survivors who have had trouble accessing services, including financial aid.

The Gambian Youth Organization, a Bronx-based group that has raised more than $1 million through an online campaign, is one of several organizations raising money for those affected by the fires.

“Tragedies like this are not something that should be left to an organization to deal with on their own,” Robert Agyemang, director of African Communities Together in New York, said in an interview with VOA, adding that his organization “Follows their lead” with reference to other groups.

“We are helping in gathering the material. We’re helping interpreters when they need to get resources from the city that the mayor has promised, resources from the state that’s been promised by the governor, and all of these other entities we’re normally negotiating with. Let’s do Aadhaar,” Agyamang said.

“We, the African community … work with the city on many projects and we are in communication with this city, as well as try to ensure that Gambian families in particular are taken care of and ensure That they have all the resources they need,” Agyamang said.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, center, speaks to reporters after visiting the Masjid-ur-Rahma Mosque in the Bronx borough of New York, Friday, January 14, 2022.

Some families are struggling to decide whether to bury their loved ones in their homeland, The Gambia or the United States.

According to the President of the United Gambians Association and Honorary Consul of the Gambia, the Gambian government said it was ready to help in any way it could, including accommodating requests to repatriate the deceased.

Meanwhile, investigators are trying to determine why the security doors did not close when the fire broke out, which caused heavy smoke to rise from the 19-storey tower and killed the victims.

The city’s medical examiner’s office said all victims were suffocated by the thick smoke in the building, where officials say a faulty electric space heater started the fire. Several people managed to escape, but others died trying to descend the stairs.

The deadly New York fire and the January 5 fire that killed 12 relatives at a Philadelphia Rowhouse duplex, where officials said none of the six smoke detectors were working, are the worst residential fires in any city in years .

Housing advocates say it’s no coincidence that two fires broke out in housing of low-income residents.

“The first thought I had when I read the news was, ‘I’m certain based on the building and location that this was low-income housing,'” said Jenna Collins, a housing attorney for Community Legal Services in Philadelphia. Fire in New York.

“I am less surprised to hear reports now that it was a space heater that caused that fire,” she said, adding that it is not uncommon for government-owned or subsidized residential properties to have inadequate heating during the winter. .

Rising real estate prices have pushed low-income Americans further away from the dream of home ownership, while the availability of government-owned or subsidized housing in some cities plagued by poor maintenance increases the potential for disaster. .

“It is the housing that has been most neglected,” said Lina Afridi, executive director of the Pratt Center for Community Development in New York.

“People stay where they can live, in both cases, and people settle for places that may not be safe because it might be preferable to homelessness. But that shouldn’t be the dichotomy that we established.” has done.”

Afridi said he believed a lack of maintenance contributed to the fire, citing reports that residents relied on heaters to keep warm and that they ignored fire alarms because they had previously False alarms were heard.

US President Joe Biden has proposed to invest billions of dollars in affordable housing in his Build Back Better proposal, but the massive spending bill has reached an impasse in Congress divided along party lines.

Jackson Mvungani of VOA’s English to Africa Service contributed to this report. Some information for this report has been obtained from Agence France-Press and The Associated Press.


This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

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