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.


US accuses Hezbollah of storing explosive chemical in Europe

Updated 18 September 2020

US accuses Hezbollah of storing explosive chemical in Europe

  • Ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound commonly used as a fertilizer, but it can be used to make explosives
  • It can also be dangerous in storage, as demonstrated by the huge explosion last month in Beirut

WASHINGTON: Militant group Hezbollah has stored chemicals that can be used to make explosives in several European countries, a senior State Department official said Thursday as he appealed to countries in Europe and elsewhere to impose bans on the organization.
Hezbollah operatives have moved ammonium nitrate from Belgium to France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Switzerland in recent years and are suspected to still be storing the material throughout Europe, said Nathan Sales, the State Department coordinator for counter-terrorism.
Ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound commonly used as a fertilizer, but it can be used to make explosives. It can also be dangerous in storage, as demonstrated by the huge explosion last month in the Lebanese capital of Beirut.
Sales, without offering evidence, said the U.S. believes that Iran-backed Hezbollah has since 2012 transported ammonium nitrate around Europe in first aid kits with cold packs that contain the compound. The United States believes these supplies are still in place throughout Europe, possibly in Greece, Italy and Spain.
“Why would Hezbollah stockpile ammonium nitrate on European soil?" he said. “The answer is clear: Hezbollah put these weapons in place so it could conduct major terrorist attacks whenever it or its masters in Tehran deemed necessary."
Sales made the remarks in an online forum hosted by the American Jewish Committee, which has called upon more countries to ban Hezbollah and its operations.
The US has designated Hezbollah as a foreign terrorist organization since 1997, but some countries distinguish between the organization's military wing and the political wing.
The EU lists Iran-backed Hezbollah’s military wing as a banned terrorist group, but not its political wing, which has been part of Lebanese governments in recent years. Some individual countries, including Germany and the UK, have outlawed the group in its entirety. Sales called on more countries to do the same.
Hezbollah is a “unitary organization that cannot be subdivided into a military and so-called political wing," he said. Without a full ban, the group can still raise money and recruit operatives. “Hezbollah is one organization," he said. "It is a terrorist organization.”