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Local residents reflect at service for fifth Grenfell Tower anniversary

Local residents reflect at service for fifth Grenfell Tower anniversary
Duke and Duchess of Cambridge among attendees

A multi-faith service and silent walk took place outside Grenfell Tower to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the fire.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, politicians and bereaved loved ones were among attendees of the sombre event, half a decade on from the fire which left 72 people dead and many others homeless.

Representatives from faith groups led prayers and recitations and many spoke of their frustration at the lack of arrests and change made by local councils and the government.

One Imam said: “Grenfell shows how the powerful and underestimated can suffer, but also how they can achieve.”

An attendee, Moktar Alqaderi, taught some of the students who passed away in the tower at the Kensington Aldridge Academy, which is located nearby. He said: “For the people that live and work here, today is very important. We lost our friends, family and students, and it is a hole that can never be filled.

“There is an underlying feeling of resentment bubbling away because of the lack of justice and hopefully today can draw light on our plight and struggle for justice.”

He added: “But, I think there’s also a celebration here. There’s people from all walks of life and we come together regularly. There’s been a lot of community cohesion and we hope, with time, we’ll find the justice we’re looking for as our friends and family died and nobody has been held accountable. They were our kids and they’re not here anymore, so how can we rest?“

Between prayers and speeches, children who lived in the tower let off balloons – as they have done every year since the blaze in 2017 – to represent people who died.

Poems were also read, choirs sung songs and a sculpture was unveiled to commemorate the dead.

Following this, Prince William, Kate Middleton and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan laid wreaths.

<p>Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, lay a wreath at the base of Grenfell Tower </p>

Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, lay a wreath at the base of Grenfell Tower

Another attendee, Amal Bider, lived near the fire and helped distribute aid and food in the immediate aftermath. Five years on, her community is frustrated at what they say is a lack of justice.

“We’re feeling a lot of frustration and anguish,” she said. “Residents complained before 2017 about the lack of lights at fire exits, the lack of green space and the cladding, so why was no one listened to?

“There is concrete evidence that people living in Grenfell Tower have been ignored time and time again, so people who played a role in this should be held accountable. There are no arrests that have been made and a lot of us are stuck.

“There isn’t enough mental health support and other worries to think about, such as the inequality of refugees being deported to Rwanda,” she continued.

“Five years later, it’s painful, it’s heartbreaking, it’s depressing. There’s no words to capture the anger as 72 people who have died and not one arrest has been made. That cannot be undone, we need justice, we cannot betray the dead.”