Saturday 17 February 2018
(AFP (eng) 12/06/17)
Morocco's King Mohammed VI on Tuesday warned US President Donald Trump against moving the American embassy to the contested holy city of Jerusalem. Trump informed Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas by phone of his intention to move the embassy from Tel Aviv, Abbas's office said Tuesday. In an open letter to the American president, the Moroccan king expressed his "deep personal concern" and "the great concern felt by Arab and Muslim states and peoples" over moves to recognise the city as Israel's capital and transfer the US embassy there. The monarch was writing as head of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation's Al-Quds Committee, which lobbies on issues related to the city, holy to three of the world's major religions. "The...
(AFP (eng) 12/06/17)
Conflicts, violence and disaster across Africa forced some 15,000 people to flee their homes every day in the first half of the year, international monitors said Wednesday. A total of 2.7 million Africans were internally displaced within their own countries in the first six months of 2017, a report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) found. They join the estimated 12.6 million internally displaced people (IDPs) living in African countries at the end of 2016. That number does not include those who have fled across borders to seek refuge, with UN figures showing there were more than 5.6 million refugees in Africa by end of last year. Internal displacement has soared in a...
(AFP (eng) 12/05/17)
The hunger-striking leader of a Moroccan protest movement that rocked the country's north was rushed to hospital Tuesday during a hearing at a Casablanca court, one of his lawyers said. Detained Nasser Zefzafi was attending a hearing at a court of appeal Tuesday morning with 53 co-defendants when he said he "felt faint", Abdessadek El Bouchtaoui told AFP. The judge halted the hearing. An unemployed 39-year-old, Zefzafi became a leading figure in Al-Hirak al-Shaabi, or the "Popular Movement" that broke out in late 2016, calling for jobs, unemployment and an end to graft in Morocco's neglected northern Rif region. Zefzafi -- who was arrested in May after allegedly interrupting a preacher at a mosque to call for further protests --...
(AFP (eng) 12/05/17)
The head of the UN's AIDS agency on Monday urged African countries to protect young women and children who are bearing the brunt of the continent's AIDS epidemic. A sharp rise of people living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has now slowed, "but now is not the time to drop our guard," Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS, told the start of a six-day conference on HIV/AIDS and sexually-transmitted diseases in Africa. "The many changes under way in our world should not threaten the sustainability of our great achievements in the AIDS response," he warned. "We cannot afford to lose our gains. If we want to end this epidemic, we must act now and act differently." About 36.7 million...
(AFP (eng) 12/04/17)
A Moroccan court on Thursday sentenced to five years in jail a member of a northern protest movement convicted of "defending terrorism" and incitement, the official MAP news agency said. Police arrested El Mortada Iamrachen in June after he posted the offending comments on his Facebook page, the agency said. A court dealing with "terrorism affairs" issued the guilty verdict against him on Thursday, MAP said. Other Moroccan media said the comments Iamrachen had posted on Facebook were about a December 2016 attack that killed the Russian ambassador in Turkey.
(AFP (eng) 12/04/17)
It may not feature in Morocco's official tourism brochures but cannabis attracts thousands of visitors a year to the North African country. At a hotel bar in the northern region of Ketama, German tourist Beatrix made no attempt to hide the joint she was rolling. The 57-year-old said she had fallen in love with the area for "the quality of its hashish and the friendliness of its residents". Hassan, a 40-something sporting a conspicuous gold watch, said cannabis was "our main source of wealth". "The climate here is very special. Nothing grows here except kif," he said, using a Moroccan name for the drug. Northern Morocco is a key production centre for hashish for export to Europe, but it has...
(AFP (eng) 12/01/17)
Leaders at an EU-Africa summit called Thursday for the immediate evacuation of nearly 4,000 distressed African migrants in Libya under a new drive to fight slave traders and traffickers. Wrapping up a two-day summit in Ivory Coast's economic capital, a top African Union (AU) official said there could be as many as 700,000 Africans stranded in Libya, where many have suffered atrocities and even been sold into slavery. He said a fact-finding mission had seen one camp in Tripoli where all the residents, numbering several thousand, were "living in inhumane conditions" and were desperate to return home. "We have agreed, along with the EU and the UN, to set up a task force for repatriating at least 3,800 people," Moussa...
(AFP (eng) 11/30/17)
A summit gathering European and African leaders from more than 80 countries drew to a close Thursday with plans for the immediate evacuation of some 3,800 African migrants stranded in Libya. Wrapping up the summit in the Ivorian capital, a top African Union official said there could be as many as 700,000 Africans trapped in Libya, where many have suffered attrocities and even been sold into slavery. The two-day summit of the African Union (AU) and European Union (EU) was showcased as a project to boost development in Africa as it faces a population crunch.
(AFP (eng) 11/30/17)
Twenty-five asylum seekers from Africa arrived safely in Rome Thursday, using a Christian "humanitarian corridor" set up for Syrians fleeing the war in their homeland. "It was just a project but it became THE project, the way of the future," said Mario Morcone of the Italian interior ministry. The 25 men, women and children from Somalia, Eritrea and South Sudan arrived in Rome before dawn on a flight from Ethiopia. They will be moved to centres across the country. "We want to ensure that people do not risk their lives in the desert and at sea," Morcone said. "This is an important turning point in the politics of our country. You are witness to this turning point and we will...
(AFP (eng) 11/29/17)
More than 80 African and European leaders will gather in the Ivory Coast on Wednesday to promote jobs and stability for Africa's exploding population, with some calling for a new "Marshall Plan." The two-day summit in Abidjan opens as the European Union increasingly sees its fate linked to Africa's following the twin shocks of unprecedented migration and terrorist attacks. It comes as China, India, Japan, the Gulf Arab states and others also compete for influence on a continent where the 28-nation EU remains as a whole the biggest economic and political player. European Parliament President Antonio Tajani told parliamentarians from both continents before the summit...
(AFP (eng) 11/28/17)
A two-day investment forum opened in Morocco's Marrakesh on Monday as China seeks to revive ancient Silk Road trade routes from Asia to Europe and Africa. "The question is how to accelerate cooperation in the field of investment," said Wang Yong, vice president of the China-Africa Development Fund. The event brings together 400 business executives including 150 from China. Morocco's Industry Minister Moulay Hafid Ellalamy said China and Africa "share the same quest for development". "The Silk Road initiative will change the map of international trade," he said, adding that trade and cooperation were already at "unprecedented" levels.
(AFP (eng) 11/28/17)
Hard cash but also the intangible ties of history have kept Europe in pole position as Africa's main partner, even if an influx of Chinese investment is prompting many African countries to look eastward. Successive years of hefty spending, particularly in infrastructure, have propelled China into the continent's top slot when calculated in terms of individual investor nations. But a quite different picture emerges when this is seen through a broader prism -- the ties between Africa and Europe as a 28-nation bloc. "Europe is in front, given the shared history," said Pierre Dagbo Gode, professor of political science at the Felix Houphouet Boigny University of Abidjan. "Europe is the premier trade partner, the top investor, the top donor," a...
(AFP (eng) 11/28/17)
A furore over migrant slave markets in Libya casts a shadow over an AU-EU summit this week that aims to promote Africa's long-term economic growth and stability, spurred by European fears of terrorism and mass migration. The two-day African Union and European Union summit opening Wednesday in the Ivory Coast economic capital Abidjan is focused mainly on the need to create jobs for Africa's rapidly growing population. The summit marks what Europe sees as a potential turning point for broader and deeper ties with a continent it once colonised widely -- while China, Japan, India and Gulf Arab states also compete for influence. However, outrage over the slave trade in Libya looms over the talks in Abidjan, with the scandal...
(Xinhuanet 11/27/17)
The second China-Africa Investment Forum opened on Monday in the Moroccan city of Marrakech. The forum brings together some 500 high-level Chinese and African business leaders. The event aims to facilitate business meetings between the main stakeholders of trade and investment between China and African countries in order to foster sustainable partnerships with high added value, particularly in the industrial sector. The forum dedicates two days of conferences and debates to the financial implications for African economies and making the continent a true industrial platform. Alongside the conferences, practical workshops will provide insights into and keys to understanding Chinese and African economic policies and operational environments. With more than 122 billion U.S. dollars in trade and 2.5 billion dollars of...
(AFP (eng) 11/21/17)
Morocco's currency regulator has announced a ban on transactions in bitcoin and other virtual currencies, in a country where foreign exchange flows are tightly controlled. "Transactions via virtual currencies constitute a breach of regulations, punishable by penalties and fines," the Offices des Changes said in a statement on its website. The announcement came a week after Moroccan digital services company MTDS said it would accept payment in bitcoin. MTDS said it was the first time the regulator had taken a clear position on bitcoin payments. MTDS head Karl Stanzik said the company had dropped its proposal in order to "comply with Moroccan law" but that it would be "very difficult to control" bitcoin transactions due to the currency's secretive nature...
(AFP (eng) 11/21/17)
Mourning relatives on Monday started burying the victims of a stampede that killed 15 women during a food aid delivery near the popular tourist town of Essaouira on Morocco's coast. "It's a tragedy," said the husband of one of the victims, breaking down in tears after burying her. Hundreds of women had gathered on Sunday at a marketplace in the village of Sidi Boulaalam, around 60 kilometres (35 miles) northeast of Essaouira, for an annual distribution of food aid organised by a benefactor from the region. A witness told AFP that people had pushed and broken down barriers as they fought for food. "If you fall, it's over for you and you get trampled on," one survivor said, speaking from...
(AfricaNews 11/21/17)
The African Union has called for an investigation on the Libyan authorities regarding the ‘slave markets’ of African migrants in the conflict torn nation. The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Professor Alpha Conde, strongly condemned the despicable acts which are at odds with the ideals of the Founding Fathers of the Organization and relevant African and international instruments, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. He calls for an immediate end to these practices and other criminal acts of human trafficking. He calls for a swift action to be taken and identify all perpetrators and accomplices, with the view of bringing the criminals to justice. This comes following the release of shocking images showing the sale of...
(Reuters (Eng) 11/20/17)
RABAT (Reuters) - Fifteen people were killed and five more injured when a stampede broke out in a southwestern Moroccan town on Sunday as food aid was being distributed in a market, the Interior Ministry said. A hospital source put the death toll at 18, adding that most victims were women who had been scrambling for food handed out by a rich man in the small coastal town of Sidi Boulaalam. A local journalist said the donor had organised similar handouts before, but this year some 1,000 people arrived, storming an iron barrier under which several women were crushed. King Mohammed ordered that the victims’ families be given any assistance they needed and the wounded treated at his cost, the...
(AFP (eng) 11/20/17)
srael's cabinet voted on Sunday to close a migrant detention centre, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced an agreement to deport 40,000 Africans who entered the country illegally. Ministers unanimously approved plans to shutter the Holot centre in southern Israel and gave migrants a three-month deadline to leave the country or face deportation, said the interior and public security ministries. "The infiltrators will have the option to be imprisoned or leave the country," the public security ministry said in a statement. Israeli official figures from June 30 show a total of 38,043 African migrants in the country. They include 27,494 Eritreans and 7,869 Sudanese, and their presence in south Tel Aviv has raised discontent among Israelis there and elsewhere. Speaking...
(AFP (eng) 11/19/17)
At least 15 people were killed and five injured Sunday in a crush as food aid was distributed near the coastal tourist town of Essaouira in western Morocco, officials said. The accident happened in the town of Sidi Boulaalam, around 60 kilometres (35 miles) from Essaouira, the interior ministry said in a statement. Local media said a "benefactor" had organised the food distribution at a stall in the rural town, which was rapidly "submerged in the crowd" of 800 people, mostly women. An investigation has begun to "determine the circumstances of the incident" and establish who was responsible, the Moroccan authorities said.

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