British holidaymakers face being stranded in Morocco amid coronavirus chaos

British tourists face being stuck in Morocco following the Kingdom’s decision to impose a travel ban this week in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus. (AP)
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Updated 18 March 2020

British holidaymakers face being stranded in Morocco amid coronavirus chaos

  • UK’s Ambassador to Morocco Thomas Reilly has reassured British nationals stuck in the country

LONDON: British tourists face being stuck in Morocco following the Kingdom’s decision to impose a travel ban this week in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Social media accounts from UK holidaymakers in the country suggest chaotic scenes at Marrakech and Agadir airports, despite the Moroccan authorities green-lighting 100 “rescue flights.”

The UK’s Ambassador to Morocco Thomas Reilly has reassured British nationals stuck in the country that the embassy was doing everything possible to repatriate them, according to the Guardian.

“Please bear with us, I know this is horrible for you guys. We are doing everything we can,” he tweeted on Wednesday.

He urged any British tourists to follow the embassy’s social media pages for more information.

His efforts have been praised in some quarters, but others were critical of the British authorities’ response.

One tourist, Rory O’Connor, who is trapped in Marrakesh, spoke to the Daily Mail: “We've been in a queue for easyJet for four hours. We’re probably still another hour to an hour and a half from the front.”

He said many holidaymakers were being given conflicting advice from the embassy and airport workers.

“The information being provided by the British Embassy is completely different to what’s being said at the airport,” O’Connor told the MailOnline.

“The ambassador claimed he was getting 30 planes sent over but easyJet, Ryanair and British Airways have no information on the flights. The Embassy has been useless,” he said. 

Another British visitor spoke to the Guardian and said she feared for her asthmatic mother and her 72-year-old husband, who were stuck at Marrakech airport for hours.

“They were told their British Airways flight tomorrow was cancelled, no flights available with other carriers and to ‘contact the Embassy.’

“When I got through to the Foreign Office they told me to follow the ambassador’s Facebook page which had the most up to date info. The Foreign Office said they were ‘trying to confirm where the ambassador got his information that rescue flights were being laid on from’ which has made me extremely anxious.

“The French government seem to have laid on repatriation flights, apparently the Germans at the airport say the same,” she said.

Morocco suspended all international flights on Monday as part of its measures to prevent the spread of the virus.


Merkel accuses China of ‘cruel treatment’ of minorities

Updated 32 min 33 sec ago

Merkel accuses China of ‘cruel treatment’ of minorities

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday accused China of “poor and cruel treatment” of minorities and underlined deep concerns over the crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong.
In a speech at the Bundestag a day before an EU summit, Merkel vowed to bring up rights issues and Germany’s worries over the situation in the former British colony in any future dialogue with Beijing.
“Of course we have to bring up our different opinions in talks,” said Merkel, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.
“That’s why we have flagged up our deep concern about the development in Hong Kong. The principle of one country, two systems stands but again and again it’s being undermined.
“We will bring that up, as well as the poor and cruel treatment in part of the rights of the minorities in China.”
She did not name the minorities bearing the brunt of poor treatment but activists have accused China over the mass internment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.
More than one million ethnic Uighurs and other minorities have been herded into internment camps to undergo political indoctrination, according to rights groups and experts.
China insists the camps are training centers aimed at providing education to reduce the allure of Islamic radicalism.
Beijing is also under fire over a security law it imposed on Hong Kong in June that radically increased its control over the financial hub and led to a brutal crackdown on dissent.