80-year-old Moroccan woman on hunger strike protests low pension

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An elderly woman in Morocco entered her tenth hunger-striking day on Saturday to protest her pension, which she believes is a meager monthly allowance.

Fatoom Jazouli, 80, receives 176 Moroccan dirhams a month (about $20), and is one of many elderly Moroccans who are unhappy with their pensions.

Jazouli, from the city of Fez, is now in hospital after her son told local press that his mother is now in poor health.

“I decided to go on hunger strike, and demand dignity and fairness," Jazouli said, according to her son, Benaissa.

Benaissa explained that his mother had inherited the pension from his father, who worked 20 years in the Royal Armed Forces.

Jazouli’s granddaughter meanwhile, said her grandmother had “made several complaints to the responsible authorities, including the Hassan II Foundation for Solidarity in Casablanca in charge of widows and people with rights as well as the Ministry of Justice, but to no avail," Reuters news agency reported.

In January, Morocco announced plans to structurally reform its state pension system during the five-year term of the current government, including an increase in the retirement age, Prime Minister Abdelillah Benkirane said.

"Our pension systems are at stake. No one wants to reach a situation like in Greece," Benkirane said in a speech to parliament.
"Of course we will negotiate with unions, but raising the retirement age is an obligation to avoid collapse."

This year, the deficit of the Moroccan Pension Fund is expected to dip into its reserves, and the reserves of all of Morocco's pension funds will be drained by 2050 if there is no reform, the government's High Planning Authority said in a report published last December.