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.


India’s controversial farm bills become law despite protests

Updated 27 September 2020

India’s controversial farm bills become law despite protests

  • Farmers’ organizations say one of the three laws could lead to the government stopping buying grain at guaranteed prices
  • Nearly 85% of India’s poor farmers own less than 2 hectares of land

NEW DELHI: India’s president on Sunday approved three controversial agricultural bills amid nationwide protests by farmers who say the new laws will stunt their bargaining power and instead allow large retailers to have control over pricing.
Farmers’ organizations say one of the three laws could lead to the government stopping buying grain at guaranteed prices, a move that would disrupt wholesale markets which have so far ensured fair and timely payments to farmers.
President Ram Nath Kovind’s approval is likely to further stir protests, leading farmers’ organizations said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already lost a key political ally from the northern Indian state of Punjab, one of India’s two bread basket states, where farmers form an influential voting bloc.
The country’s main opposition Congress party has also backed the protests.
Under the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill — one of the laws already approved by parliament — growers can directly sell their produce to institutional buyers such as big traders and retailers.
Nearly 85% of India’s poor farmers own less than 2 hectares (5 acres) of land and they find it difficult to directly negotiate with large buyers.
Modi’s administration has clarified that the wholesale markets will operate as usual, and the government only aims to empower farmers to sell directly to buyers.