Pope Francis’ visit to Morocco to focus on migrants

Pope Francis is seen during the weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square, at the Vatican February 27, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 06 March 2019
0

Pope Francis’ visit to Morocco to focus on migrants

  • “Pope Francis loves to go to frontiers, to places of transit,” said Cristobal Lopez Romero, archbishop of Rabat

CASABLANCA: Morocco’s bishops said Tuesday they hope Pope Francis’ visit to their country will help shed light on the situation of migrants in the country that is a key transit point for those trying to reach Europe.
The Catholic church in Morocco mainly works with people from Sub-Saharan Africa, who make up 50 to 70 percent of churchgoers. Many are migrants illegally staying in the majority Muslim country living in poor conditions.
“We have had to prioritize to whom the aid goes first. Our church suffers from lack of funds. We can give some migrants food, plastic, covers, yet we can’t give them the respect they deserve. They are people not animals.” said Santiago Agrelo Martinez, Archbishop of Tangier.
He said he hopes that the pope’s visit on March 30-31 will help improve the situation.
The city he oversees is particularly known for being a focal point for departure into the Mediterranean Sea. A large crackdown on migrants was led by Moroccan authorities there last summer to limit numbers of crossings.
“Pope Francis loves to go to frontiers, to places of transit,” said Cristobal Lopez Romero, archbishop of Rabat, at a news conference in Casablanca Tuesday.
Morocco’s officials have repeatedly said the country cannot be the region’s immigration police, putting pressure on Europe to provide funds to manage the crisis.
Yet crackdowns on migrants and deportations are rampant, pushing international rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to denounce Morocco’s security measures.
Nearly 47,500 migrants have arrived in Spain by sea since the start of the year, while 564 have died or gone missing while trying to reach Europe, according to the International Organization of Migration.


Israel braces for more wildfires as temperatures spike

Updated 24 May 2019
0

Israel braces for more wildfires as temperatures spike

  • Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes on Thursday as fires raged
  • The fires were fueled by high temperatures and dry condition

JERUSALEM: Israel is bracing for renewed wildfires amid a major heat wave that shows no signs of abating.
Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes on Thursday as fires raged, fueled by high temperatures and dry conditions.
The EU ambassador, Emanuele Giaufret, said Israel had asked for international help to combat the fires, and aid was arriving on Friday from Cyprus and Italy.
Plumes of smoke rose from hillsides in the country’s center and south as firefighters worked into the early hours to control the blaze.
The cause of the blaze remains unclear, but it erupted following the Jewish festival of Lag Ba’Omer, which observers mark with bonfires.
A sweltering heat wave is pushing temperatures in parts of the country up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, or 43 Celsius.