Qatari ships will be barred from using Egyptian ports and the canal’s economic zone: official

A cargo ship navigates past the Suez Canal Authority Building in Port Said, 180 kilometers northeast of Cairo, on November 24, 2008. (AFP)
Updated 08 July 2017
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Qatari ships will be barred from using Egyptian ports and the canal’s economic zone: official

DUBAI:The chief of one of the world’s busiest water corridors, the Suez Canal, says Egyptian authorities can’t ban Qatari ships from crossing the vital waterway.
Suez Canal chairman Mohab Mamish, a retired navy admiral, said in a statement Friday that the canal authorities are abiding by the government’s severing relations with Qatar. However, international treaties prevent them from barring Qatari ships from using the canal as a passage. He said Qatari ships will be barred from using Egyptian ports and the canal’s economic zone.
Egypt along with Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have accused Qatar of harboring Islamic extremism. The four countries cut diplomatic ties and severed air, land and sea links with the World Cup 2022 host early last month.
Around 10 percent of the world’s trade flows through the waterway, which links the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, allowing vessels to avoid sailing around Africa. The canal is one of Egypt’s top foreign currency earners and is seen as a symbol of it’s the country’s modernity.
The four Arab countries isolating Qatar are vowing to take additional steps against the energy rich Gulf state after it refused to accept their demands over allegations that it supports extremist ideology.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain said in a statement carried early Friday on the Emirati state news agency WAM that they will “take all necessary political, economic and legal measures” against Qatar in a “timely manner.” They did not specify what those steps could include.
The four countries cut diplomatic ties and severed air, land and sea links with World Cup 2022 host Qatar early last month. They later issued a 10-day ultimatum to a 13-point list of demands.
Qatar denies supporting extremism and sees the ultimatum as an affront to its sovereignty.


Migrants stranded at sea for three weeks face deportation

Updated 20 June 2019
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Migrants stranded at sea for three weeks face deportation

  • Vessel carrying 75 illegal refugees, including 32 children, remained stranded 25 km off Tunisia

TUNIS: Tunisia has allowed dozens of migrants, mostly from Bangladesh, to disembark after three weeks stranded in the Mediterranean, so that they can return to their home countries, the Red Crescent said on Wednesday.

An Egyptian boat rescued at least 75 migrants in Tunisian waters last month. But local authorities in the governorate of Medinine said its migrant centers were too overcrowded to let them ashore, leaving the vessel stranded 25 km off the coastal city of Zarzis.

“After they were stranded for three weeks at sea in difficult conditions, Tunisia agreed to dock the ship, and migrants accepted to return to their countries in coming days,” Red Crescent official Mongi Slim told Reuters.

After a visit by officials from Bangladesh Embassy, the migrants agreed to return home, according to Mongi Slim, a Red Crescent official.

Earlier, Red Crescent representatives welcomed to port 64 Bangladeshis, nine Egyptians, a Moroccan, a Sudanese citizen, who left Zuwara in Libya in late May.

The migrants, which include at least 32 children and unaccompanied minors, are to be transferred to a reception center in Sfax from where they are set to return home, Slim added.

Worried about creating a precedent, Tunisian authorities said they accepted the migrants as an exception and for “humanitarian” reasons.

“We thank Tunisia’s renewed commitment to life and dignity,” said Lorena Lando, the head of the International Organization for Migration in Tunisia.

She added that it is urgent to put in place a collaborative approach to helping migrants in the Mediterranean.

Neighboring Libya’s west coast is a frequent departure point for African migrants hoping to reach Europe by paying human traffickers. But their numbers have dropped after an Italian-led effort to disrupt smuggling networks and support the Libyan coast guard.

At least 65 migrants drowned last month when their boat capsized off Tunisia after setting out from Libya.

In the first four months of 2019, 164 people are known to have died on the route, a smaller number but a higher death rate than in previous years, with one dying for every three who reach European shores, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said.