About 102 Stranded Nigerians Arrive In Abuja From Morocco

102 Stranded Nigerians Arrive In Abuja From Morocco

 

About 102 stranded Nigerians have arrived in Abuja from Morocco.

The evacuees arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport on Thursday with Air Morocco from Casablanca.

This was announced on the official Twitter handle of the Nigerians In Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM).

Prior to their return, the commission noted that the evacuees tested negative to COVID-19 and will proceed on a mandatory self-isolation.

“Air Morocco from Casablanca with estimated 102 Nigerians arrive Nnamdi Azikiwe Int’l Airport, Abuja at about 1602hrs from Morroco today 30th July 2020,” the agency said.

“All Evacuees tested Negative to #COVID19 and will now proceed on a 14-day SELF-ISOLATION as mandated by the NCDC.”

See Tweets Below:

Morocco Arrests 11 For ‘Illegal Abortions’

 

Morocco Rejoins African Union

 

Moroccan police said they arrested 11 people Tuesday for “illegal abortions” in the kingdom, where prison sentences for terminating pregnancies remain a topic of fierce public debate.

National security said it had opened an investigation after “receiving complaints about a clinic performing illegal abortions” in the tourist city of Marrakesh.

The 77-year-old doctor who owned the clinic, four nurses and six clients including a 17-year-old girl were detained on charges including illegal abortion, statutory rape, adultery and complicity in those offences, it said in a statement.

Eight of the defendants were remanded in custody, while the minor was placed “under police control”.

In 2015, Morocco debated the “urgent need” to reform legislation in the face of hundreds of clandestine abortions performed daily, often under appalling conditions.

An official commission recommended that abortion be legalised in special circumstances, including for cases of rape or serious fetal abnormalities.

No law reform followed these recommendations, despite the lobbying of women’s rights supporters.

Abortion remains a criminal offence in Morocco, with penalties of one to five years in prison for those who perform the procedure and six months to a year in prison for women who undergo it.

NGOs say up to 150 children are abandoned daily in Morocco, a phenomenon to which unwanted pregnancies contribute.

Morocco Reports Record Spike In COVID-19 Cases

A man, wearing a protective mask due to the COVID-19 pandemic, crosses a street while drivers wait at a traffic light in the Moroccan capital Rabat on June 10, 2020, as the government declared the extension of coronavirus lockdown until July 10. FADEL SENNA / AFP
A man, wearing a protective mask due to the COVID-19 pandemic, crosses a street while drivers wait at a traffic light in the Moroccan capital Rabat on June 10, 2020, as the government declared the extension of coronavirus lockdown until July 10. FADEL SENNA / AFP

 

Morocco reported on Friday its highest number of confirmed novel coronavirus infections in a single day since recording its first case in March, according to the health ministry.

Over 450 of the infections were recorded in the western Rabat-Kenitra region, the health ministry said, noting the cases were “asymptomatic”.

Local media reported the source of the outbreak was a strawberry packing plant in the town of Kenitra.

Morocco, with a population of 34 million, has until now recorded on average fewer than 100 new COVID-19 cases daily.

In total, it has reported fewer than 10,000 cases and 213 deaths from the respiratory illness.

The spike comes as the country prepares to relax restrictions aimed at containing the virus on Saturday.

On June 9, authorities announced a gradual lifting of lockdown measures, though restrictions remain in force in major cities and a public health state of emergency has been extended until July 10.

Meanwhile, a massive screening campaign for private-sector workers has been launched after authorities urged companies to resume working.

Morocco Artisans Fear ‘Knockout Punch’ From COVID-19

A Moroccan potter works on a wheel at a workshop in the city of Sale, north of the capital Rabat, on June 3, 2020, during the novel coronavirus pandemic. – Artisans in Morocco have been starved of income for almost three months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The crafts industry represents some seven percent of GDP, with an export turnover last year of nearly 1 billion dirhams ($100 million). FADEL SENNA / AFP.

 

Pottery, basketwork and wrought-iron furniture pile up in the deserted stalls of the Oulja arts and crafts complex in Sale near the Moroccan capital Rabat.

Artisans have been starved of income for almost three months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Coronavirus is the knockout punch: without help, without support, our profession will disappear,” said Youssef Rghalmi, a 49-year-old potter.

In the family workshop, where skills have been handed down from generation to generation, the clay has dried up, the oven is turned off and the nine employees no longer turn up for work.

The last order, for a customer from France who called off her visit because of border closures, is gathering dust in a corner.

“We were already struggling to survive because lifestyles have changed,” said Mohamed Touel, a master carver of “gebs” decorative plaster.

“Traditional trades are being lost because young people don’t want to take over.”

The enterprising 62-year-old had added a small restaurant to his shop but it closed because of lockdown measures imposed since mid-March.

READ ALSO: Britain To Reopen Places Of Worship On June 15

Foreign tourists have vanished, the lockdown has paralysed economic life and local customers “have other priorities”, Ahmed Driouch said in his store cluttered with copper lamps, ceramics, daggers, jewelry, inlaid chests and carpets.

Business has been “two hundred percent affected by the virus”, he said, grimly forecasting it would take “at least two or three years” to return to normal.

-‘Nobody’s coming’-

Upstairs, employees dusted some 10,000 carpets in stock, one by one.

“We must clean everything even if, for now, nobody’s coming,” one of them said ruefully, vacuum cleaner in hand.

Minister of Tourism and Handicrafts Nadia Fettah has proposed ideas such as exhibition spaces in supermarkets to revive a sector that provides employment to two million people.

That includes about 230,000 traditional artisans.

The crafts industry represents around seven percent of GDP, with an export turnover last year of nearly one billion dirhams ($100 million).

Despite their role in the economy, artisans work without social security cover and with a limited distribution network, much of it through word of mouth, like elsewhere in North Africa.

– ‘Don’t know internet’ –

The 30 women who weave rugs for a small cooperative called “Creative Woman” in Sale have all lost their meagre incomes.

Weavers work eight hours a day for barely $100 a month “when the carpets are sold” and they “have nothing left because there has not been a single sale in three months”, explained Rachida Nabati.

The energetic woman in her 40s, who has been a weaver since the age of seven, has been forced to borrow from friends to supplement her modest earnings from a vegetable garden next to her shack.

In the cooperative, some have been bailed out by a state coronavirus emergency fund, while many others “can no longer pay their rent”.

“We have to sell on the internet but we don’t know how to do that,” said the mother who taught herself to read and write.

“A digital platform was launched for artisans a few years ago, but it doesn’t work,” master plasterer Mohamed Touel said.

In Tunisia, the National Office of Handicrafts has been working on an electronic platform for sales in Europe and has organised small exhibitions in hotels.

It also encourages artisans to launch Facebook pages or electronic sites.

But Sabiha, a potter in the Tunisian rural town of Sejnan whose works are on UNESCO’s list of “intangible cultural heritage”, said she cannot “even afford to recharge” her mobile phone.

AFP

Over 60 COVID-19 Cases Recorded In Morocco Prison

Members of the medical staff at the Mohammmed V military hospital, wearing protective outfits, are pictured during the novel coronavirus pandemic crisis, in the Moroccan capital Rabat on April 15, 2020. FADEL SENNA / AFP.

 

More than 60 cases of coronavirus infections have been recorded in a jail in southern Morocco, mostly among staff, the country’s prisons service said.

The DGAPR agency, in a statement late Monday, said 60 workers and six inmates had tested positive for COVID-19 at the prison in the town of Ouarzazate after checks were carried out on all prisoners.

Nine staff and two inmates had previously tested positive at a jail in the southern city of Marrakesh and in Ksar Kebir, in the north of the kingdom, it said.

The prison service said that cases of contamination in Morocco’s prisons — which hold a total of 80,000 inmates — were under control because of “preventives measures” such as quarantines for workers with the respiratory disease.

At the start of April, more than 5,650 prisoners were released to reduce the risks of the spread of coronavirus, which has cost 144 lives in Morocco and contaminated more than 3,000 people.

READ ALSO: UEFA Recommends Completion Of League Seasons

Other Middle East and North African countries have also released prisoners, a measure UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has called for across the world as part of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Morocco, a country of 35 million, has closed its borders and imposed a lockdown until May 20, enforced by security forces, to stem the spread of the disease.

AFP

COVID-19: Morocco Arrests Over 4,300 For Breaching Emergency Rules

Moroccan authorities wearing protective masks check people at a road block in a street in the capital Rabat on April 9, 2020 during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic crisis. Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP.

 

More than 4,300 people were arrested over the weekend in Morocco for breaching emergency rules in place to combat the novel coronavirus, according to official figures.

More than half of those detained were taken into police custody.

Since mid-March, authorities have arrested 28,701 people across the North African country, 15,545 of whom have been referred to court after being held in custody, according to the country’s national security force DGSN.

Penalties for violating measures in place to curb the spread of the COVID-19 disease include up to three months in jail and fines of up to 1,300 dirhams ($130), or both.

Morocco imposed a public health state of emergency on March 19, confining everyone to their homes except those with a permit to be out for work.

Last week, authorities made wearing face masks in public obligatory.

Police and security agents supported by soldiers in armoured cars have been deployed around the country, erecting road barriers and control points to enforce the measures.

Morocco has recorded 1,746 COVID-19 cases, with 120 deaths and 196 recoveries. Fewer than 7,000 tests have been carried out.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Asia Markets Down As Oil Bounces On Output Cuts Deal

The largest number of arrests were made in the country’s economic centre of Casablanca and the capital Rabat, according to the DGSN.

Isolation measures have proved most challenging in densely populated, working-class neighbourhoods, according to local media reports.

Economic paralysis brought on by the pandemic has left millions of Moroccans in a precarious existence, with the bulk of the workforce made up of informal workers dependent on odd jobs and lacking access to social safety nets.

In the absence of a social database, authorities are working to identify needy families to distribute direct financial aid and food baskets.

AFP

Morocco Makes Face Masks Compulsory To Fight Coronavirus

A member of the Red Cross questions a man in Morocco. Sylvain THOMAS / AFP

 

 

Wearing face masks in public will be obligatory in Morocco from Tuesday in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus, according to an official decree.

The decision was announced late Monday after a government meeting on how to control the epidemic.

Morocco imposed a public health state of emergency on March 19, confining everyone to their homes except those with a permit to be out and about for their work.

Police, security agents and soldiers in armoured cars have been deployed around the country, erecting road barriers and control points.

The official number of COVID-19 cases in Morocco has doubled in a week to 1,120, including 80 fatalities.

The real numbers are likely to be significantly higher as there is a lack of testing gear in the country.

AFP

15 On Trial For Stealing Luxury Watches Belonging To Morocco’s King

This handout picture provided by the Moroccan Royal Palace on January 15, 2020, shows Morocco's King Mohammed VI (C) during a visit to the "Bayt Dakira" (House of Memory) museum, in the Atlantic coastal city of Essaouira. Moroccan Royal Palace / AFP
This handout picture provided by the Moroccan Royal Palace on January 15, 2020, shows Morocco’s King Mohammed VI (C) during a visit to the “Bayt Dakira” (House of Memory) museum, in the Atlantic coastal city of Essaouira. Moroccan Royal Palace / AFP

 

Fifteen people went on trial in the Moroccan capital on Friday over the theft of dozens of luxury watches belonging to King Mohammed VI.

Defence lawyers said the suspects, arrested at the end of last year, were also charged in a Rabat court of forming “a criminal gang”.

The main suspect is a 46-year-old who worked as a cleaning woman in a royal household and has allegedly confessed to the robberies, while the others have denied involvement.

The woman, who is alleged to have stolen 36 watches, had many of them melted down and sold on to gold merchants.

The 14 others in court, all men, are gold traders or intermediaries who said they had no knowledge of the robberies.

Forbes magazine in 2014 classified the 56-year-old monarch as one of the world’s richest men with wealth estimated at more than $2.5 billion.

He has a taste for luxury cars, paintings and watches, and was shown in an Instagram post in September 2018 with a Patek Philippe diamond-encrusted watch in white gold with an estimated value of $1.2 million.

 

AFP

Morocco Jails Youtuber, Detains Journalist

Vice Principal Gets Life Imprisonment For Raping 12-Year-Old In Ekiti
File Photo

 

A Moroccan YouTuber was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison for “insulting the king” in a video broadcast on social networks, his lawyer said.

In a separate case, a Moroccan journalist and activist was charged and detained over a tweet that had criticised a court decision, his defence council told AFP.

The cases come after the Moroccan Human Rights Association had deplored in July an “escalation of violations of human rights and public and individual freedoms” in Morocco.

The YouTuber Mohamed Sekkaki, known as “Moul Kaskita”, was sentenced by a court in the western city of Settat to four years in prison, his lawyer Mohamed Ziane told AFP.

Sekkaki, whose videos usually exceed 100,000 views, was arrested in early December after posting a video in which he insulted Moroccans as “donkeys” and criticised King Mohammed VI, whose is considered “inviolable” under the constitution.

Ziani said his client would appeal the verdict.

The conviction of the YouTuber came less than a month after a Moroccan rapper was sentenced to a year in prison for “insulting a public official”.

Also on Thursday, journalist Omar Radi, 33, was detained in Casablanca and now faces trial, his lawyer Said Benhammani told AFP.

He is being prosecuted for a tweet published nine months ago criticising the judge in charge of the case against the leaders of the Hirak protest movement, he said.

Morocco’s criminal code punishes “insulting magistrates” with imprisonment of between one month and one year.

The group Reporters Without Borders in its latest annual press freedom index ranked Morocco 135th out of 180 countries.

‘Valley Of Souls’ Triumphs At Marrakesh Film Festival

British actress Tilda Swinton (R) stands as Colombian director Nicola Rincon Gille holds his trophy of the ” Etoile d’Or ” during the closing ceremony of the 18th edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival on December 7, 2019, in Marrakech. FADEL SENNA / AFP

 

 

Colombian director Nicolas Rincon Gille’s “Valley of Souls”, the story of a father’s solitary search for the bodies of his murdered sons, won top prize Saturday at the Marrakesh film festival.

It follows the journey of Jose, who comes home from a night of fishing to discover that paramilitaries have killed his two sons and dumped their bodies in the river.

So he sets off in a canoe to try to find their bodies and give them a proper burial.

READ ALSO: ‘Emotional’ Will Smith Campaigns Against Homelessness In New York

Marrakesh’s 18th annual festival was attended by top cinema stars such as Harvey Keitel, Marion Cotillard, Tilda Swinton and Robert Redford, who received a lifetime achievement award.

Toby Wallace won Best Actor for his role in the Australian comedy “Babyteeth”, directed by Shannon Murphy.

Nichola Burley and Roxanne Scrimshaw shared the Best Actress prize for British comedy “Lynn + Lucy”, directed by Fyzal Boulifa.

Tunisia’s Ala Eddine Slim was named Best Director for “Tlamess”, a drama about a soldier who deserts the army after his mother’s death.

Moroccan YouTuber Arrested For ‘Public Insults’

Morocco Rejoins African Union

 

A Moroccan YouTuber was arrested and appeared in court Tuesday for “insulting Moroccans and constitutional institutions” in a video, the kingdom’s public prosecutor announced.

Mohamed Sekkaki, known as Moul Kaskita, was detained on Sunday after publishing a video in which he criticised King Mohammed VI, considered “inviolable” by the kingdom’s constitution.

In the 12 minute YouTube video, Sekkaki said the monarch’s speeches were not followed by results, while Moroccans suffered from clientelism and nepotism.

Sekkaki, whose frequent broadcasts normally attract over 100,000 views, also insulted his compatriots, calling them ignorant and donkeys who “watch their rights being flouted without saying a word”.

The public prosecutor said it had “received several complaints” from citizens concerned by the video, which “included insults and degrading descriptions”.

When Sekkaki was arrested in the city of Settat south of Casablanca, “a small amount of drugs” was found in his possession, the prosecutor said.

He will be prosecuted for “public insults against individuals, indecent exposure through obscene gestures and behaviour, contempt of constitutional institutions and possession of drugs”.

“Many of the expressions in this video have nothing to do with freedom of expression and constitute crimes punishable by law,” the prosecutor said.

Sekkaki “received significant transfers of money from abroad in return for his activities”, the prosecutor claimed.

His arrest comes less than a week after a Moroccan rapper was sentenced to a year in prison for “insulting a public official” in a video published online.

Mohamed Mounir, known as Gnawi, was arrested last month shortly after publishing a song denouncing injustice and money-grabbing that attacked the king directly.

AFP

Morocco Pardons Journalist Jailed For Abortion

Morocco Rejoins African Union

 

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI on Wednesday issued a royal pardon for journalist Hajar Raissouni, overturning a court sentence for an “illegal abortion” and sexual relations outside marriage, the justice ministry said.

The 28-year-old will walk free “in the coming hours”, while sentences handed down to her fiance, gynaecologist, anaesthetist and a medical assistant were also overturned, an official told AFP.