Morocco arrests over 4,300 for breaching emergency rules

Moroccan authorities wearing protective masks check people at a road block in a street in the capital Rabat on April 9, 2020 during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic crisis. (AFP)
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Updated 14 April 2020

Morocco arrests over 4,300 for breaching emergency rules

  • Police and security agents supported by soldiers in armored cars have been deployed around the country, erecting road barriers and control points to enforce the measures

RABAT: More than 4,300 people were arrested over the weekend in Morocco for breaching emergency rules in place to combat the novel coronavirus, according to official figures. More than half of those detained were taken into police custody.
Since mid-March, authorities have arrested 28,701 people across the North African country, 15,545 of whom have been referred to court after being held in custody, according to the country’s national security force DGSN.
Penalties for violating measures in place to curb the spread of the COVID-19 disease include up to three months in jail and fines of up to 1,300 dirhams ($130), or both.
Morocco imposed a public health state of emergency on March 19, confining everyone to their homes except those with a permit to be out for work.
Last week, authorities made wearing face masks in public obligatory.

FASTFACT

The largest number of arrests were made in the country’s economic center of Casablanca and the capital Rabat, according to the DGSN.

Police and security agents supported by soldiers in armored cars have been deployed around the country, erecting road barriers and control points to enforce the measures.
Morocco has recorded 1,746 COVID-19 cases, with 120 deaths and 196 recoveries. Fewer than 7,000 tests have been carried out.
The largest number of arrests were made in the country’s economic center of Casablanca and the capital Rabat, according to the DGSN.
Isolation measures have proved most challenging in densely populated, working class neighborhoods, according to local media reports.
Economic paralysis brought on by the pandemic has left millions of Moroccans in a precarious existence, with the bulk of the workforce made up of informal workers dependent on odd jobs and lacking access to social safety nets.
In the absence of a social database, authorities are working to identify needy families to distribute direct financial aid and food baskets.

 


UN fails to find consensus after Russia, China veto on Syrian aid

A woman talks with a soldier of the Syrian army during distribution of humanitarian aid from the Russian military, in the town of Rastan, Syria. (AP)
Updated 6 min 55 sec ago

UN fails to find consensus after Russia, China veto on Syrian aid

  • Russia and China argue that the UN authorization violates Syria’s sovereignty, and that aid can increasingly be channeled through Syrian authorities

NEW YORK: The UN Security Council failed to find a consensus on prolonging cross-border humanitarian aid to Syria on Friday after Russia and China vetoed an extension and members rejected a counter proposal by Moscow.
Without an agreement, authorization for the transport of aid to war-torn Syria, which has existed since 2014, expired Friday night.
Germany and Belgium were working on a final initiative to save the effort, with hopes of bringing it to a vote this weekend.
“We are ready to work round the clock, and call on others to think of the millions of people in Syria waiting for the Security Council to decide their fate,” said German Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, who holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council this month.
After Moscow and Beijing wielded vetoes for a second time this week, only three countries joined Russia in backing its proposal to cut the number of aid transit points from two to one.
China supported Russia, but seven countries including the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Belgium voted against, with four abstentions.
An attempt by Russia to pass a similar resolution also failed earlier this week.
The NGO Oxfam had warned that stopping cross-border aid would be “a devastating blow to the millions of Syrian families who rely on this aid for clean water, food, health care and shelter.”
Thirteen countries voted in favor of an earlier German-Belgian draft, but Moscow and Beijing opposed the extension because they favor a more limited proposal.
European countries and the US want to maintain two crossing points on the Turkish border — at Bab Al-Salam, which leads to the Aleppo region, and Bab Al-Hawa, which serves the Idlib region.
The UN authorization allows the body to distribute aid to displaced Syrians without needing permission from Damascus.
Russia and China argue that the UN authorization violates Syria’s sovereignty, and that aid can increasingly be channeled through Syrian authorities.
The latest proposal by Russia, which claims to want continued aid for the insurgent Idlib region, would have kept only the Bab Al-Hawa access point open, and for one year.
Moscow claims that more than 85 percent of current aid goes through Bab Al-Hawa and that the Bab Al-Salam entry point can therefore be closed.
Western countries oppose it, with the US having described two entry points as “a red line.”
In January, Moscow, Syria’s closest ally, succeeded in having the crossing points reduced from four to two and in limiting the authorization to six months instead of a year.
According to Washington’s ambassador to the UN, Kelly Craft, keeping only one border crossing open would cut off 1.3 million people living north of Aleppo from humanitarian aid.
Another diplomat noted that “if the authorization is renewed a few days late, it is not the absolute end of the world. It suspends the convoys for a few days, it does not put them in danger.”
For the UN, keeping as many entry points open as possible is crucial, particularly given the risk of the coronavirus pandemic, which is spreading in the region.
In a report in June, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a one-year extension of the aid to include the two current access points.
When asked Thursday if the UN would be satisfied with a single entry point into Syria, body spokesman Stephane Dujarric said: “We need more aid to go through the border. We do not need less to go through.”
David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee, called it a “dark day” for Syrian civilians and the UN.
He added it “defies logic or humanity to dismantle a system designed to bring life-saving aid to Syrians in the form of food, health supplies, vaccines, and now critical COVID-19 provisions.”