Living rough in Morocco, migrants dream of Spanish enclave

Migrants climb a ledge along a mountain path after an attempted assault on the border fence separating Morocco from Spain’s North African Melilla. (AFP)
Migrants climb a ledge along a mountain path after an attempted assault on the border fence separating Morocco from Spain’s North African Melilla. (AFP)
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Updated 06 March 2022

Living rough in Morocco, migrants dream of Spanish enclave

Migrants climb a ledge along a mountain path after an attempted assault on the border fence separating Morocco from Spain’s North African Melilla. (AFP)
  • Moroccan Association for Human Rights said some 30 migrants were injured in Wednesday’s rush, three or four of them seriously

NADOR: When 2,500 migrants stormed Morocco’s border with a Spanish enclave this week, Mahjoub Abdellah wasn’t among the hundreds who made it across — but he is determined to try again.
The 22-year-old from the war-devastated region of Darfur in western Sudan was nursing a foot injury on Friday at a makeshift camp in a Moroccan forest near Melilla, a tiny Spanish territory which he sees as his route to “a dignified life.”
“If I get a chance, I’ll try again,” he said.
Spanish authorities say Wednesday’s incident was the biggest such crossing attempt on record, with almost 500 managing to cross into EU territory.
Melilla and Ceuta, Spain’s other tiny North African enclave, have the EU’s only land borders with Africa.
That makes them a magnet for migrants desperate to escape poverty, violence and hunger both at home and during their journeys across Africa.
“I’m tired. I spent three months living in this forest, under the rain,” Abdellah said.
“Even animals couldn’t live in these conditions.”
He plans to leave the drab town of Nador, near Melilla, to try to earn some money elsewhere — and prepare another attempt.

SPEEDREAD

Spain says over 800 migrants managed to cross Melilla’s heavily fortified 12-km frontier this week, compared to 1,092 in the whole of last year.

Melilla, a welcoming city for sunseeking European tourists, sits a stone’s throw across the border from the Gourougou Massif, a forested mountain that has long served as a grim hideout for migrants hoping to reach European territory.
To do so, they have to brave successive layers of razor wire, ditches and high fences — and an at times violent game of cat-and-mouse with both Moroccan and Spanish security forces.
Spain says over 800 migrants managed to cross Melilla’s heavily fortified 12-km frontier this week, compared to 1,092 in the whole of last year.
They said the migrants had thrown rocks and used “violence” against security forces.
Moroccan Association for Human Rights said some 30 migrants were injured in Wednesday’s rush, three or four of them seriously.
On Friday, Moroccan police were deployed along the fence near the town of Beni Ansar as migrants walked in freezing gusts of wind along the rugged paths of Gourougou. Ahmed Mohamed, another migrant from Sudan, also tried to reach Melilla on Wednesday.
He is just 17 years old, but has lost count of how many times he has attempted the crossing since he arrived in Morocco eight months ago.
After his failed attempts, he is sent back each time to the Casablanca or Safi regions, hundreds of kilometers away.
“One day, I’m going to achieve my dream,” he said. “Back home, there’s no hope any more.”
Like many of his companions, he said he entered Morocco via neighboring Algeria, but he prefers not to reveal the exact route.
Another 17-year-old, a Chadian girl with a tattooed forehead, begged to be let into Europe.
“Open the borders, help us! We’re sick of being chased and harassed,” she said.
She had not tried to cross this week but would stop at nothing to succeed.
In mid-May 2021, Spain was caught off guard when more than 10,000 people swam or used small inflatable boats to enter Ceuta as Moroccan border forces looked the other way.
The incident, at the height of a diplomatic spat between Rabat and Madrid, showed how heavily Spain relies on Moroccan cooperation to rein in clandestine migration.


Syria denies it is holding American journalist Austin Tice

Syria denies it is holding American journalist Austin Tice
Updated 5 sec ago

Syria denies it is holding American journalist Austin Tice

Syria denies it is holding American journalist Austin Tice
DAMASCUS: Syria denied on Wednesday it is holding US journalist Austin Tice or other Americans after President Joe Biden accused the Syrian government of detaining him.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Damascus “denies it had kidnapped or is holding any American citizen on its territories.”
Biden’s comments last week came in a statement released by the White House to mark the 10th anniversary of Tice’s abduction, which took place when he was in Syria covering its lengthy conflict. Biden’s remarks were the clearest indication so far that the US is certain Tice is being held by the government of President Bashar Assad.
Tice went missing shortly after his 31st birthday on Aug. 14, 2012 at a checkpoint in a contested area west of the capital Damascus. A video released a month later showed him blindfolded and held by armed men, saying “Oh, Jesus.” He has not been heard from since.

Egypt to release 25 pretrial detainees: report

Egypt to release 25 pretrial detainees: report
Updated 44 min 37 sec ago

Egypt to release 25 pretrial detainees: report

Egypt to release 25 pretrial detainees: report

CAIRO: Egypt will release 25 pretrial detainees pending investigations on Wednesday, according to a member of the Presidential Pardon Committee. 

The group of pretrial detainees are to be released within around 24 hours, said Tarek El-Kholy, as quoted by Ahlam Online.   

This will be the latest batch of pretrial detainees released pending investigations.

The Presidential Pardon Committee is mandated to review the cases of pretrial detainees for political crimes.

El-Kholy previously noted in an interview with The Africa Report that only individuals who have not participated in violent acts or killed military personnel or civilians will be considered for pardon.  

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi re-affirmed on several occasions that Egypt holds no political prisoners and that the government promotes respect for human rights.


Attacks on Iranian clerics, fueled by public anger, on the rise: Report

Attacks on Iranian clerics, fueled by public anger, on the rise: Report
Updated 17 August 2022

Attacks on Iranian clerics, fueled by public anger, on the rise: Report

Attacks on Iranian clerics, fueled by public anger, on the rise: Report
  • Attacks on Iranian clerics have been fueled by public disdain over suffocating restrictions on public life and the dire economic conditions

Attacks on Iranian clerics, fueled by public disdain over suffocating restrictions on public life and the dire economic conditions, have been on the rise in Iran in recent years, according to Iranian daily Radio Farda. 

Iran has reported several incidents of physical attacks of clerics, with many religious officials saying they no longer wear their robes or turbans in public to avoid being targeted, Radio Farda reported. 

Two-dozen clerics were violently attacked in the past decade, out of which three were killed and two were blinded, according to Radio Farda. 

Recent attacks have also targeted low-level clerics who have attempted to enforce strict religious codes in public such as the hijab rule, the report added. 

Many Iranians can no longer tolerate clerics who impose “their reactionary lifestyle on others,” Radio Farda cited Tehran-based dissident cleric Abolfazl Najafi-Tehrani as saying. 

“In recent years, we have witnessed people’s hatred and anger towards particularly those clerics who follow state policies,” Najafi-Tehrani said, adding that a governing system based on religion and its interference in the daily lives of people has sparked resentment towards the religious officials. 

According to the report, Iranians are also angry over the fact that a large sum of the state’s budget continues to be spent on seminaries – despite crippling US sanctions that have plunged hundreds in the country into poverty. 

Countrywide protests are proof that Iranians “demand the withdrawal of the clerics and the noninterference of religion and religious representatives in the state,” Najafi-Tehrani said. 


Germany and Israel condemn Palestinian president’s Holocaust remarks

Germany and Israel condemn Palestinian president’s Holocaust remarks
Updated 17 August 2022

Germany and Israel condemn Palestinian president’s Holocaust remarks

Germany and Israel condemn Palestinian president’s Holocaust remarks
  • Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of committing ‘50 Holocausts’
  • His comment followed months of tension and a brief conflict this month during which 49 people were killed in Gaza

BERLIN/JERUSALEM: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz voiced disgust on Wednesday at remarks by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the German leader said diminished the importance of the Holocaust, while Israel accused Abbas of telling a “monstrous lie.”
“For us Germans in particular, any relativization of the singularity of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable,” Scholz tweeted on Wednesday. “I am disgusted by the outrageous remarks made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.”
During a visit to Berlin on Tuesday, Abbas accused Israel of committing “50 Holocausts” in response to a question about the upcoming 50th anniversary of the attack on the Israeli team at the Munich Olympics by Palestinian militants.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid also condemned the comments as a “disgrace.”
“Mahmoud Abbas accusing Israel of having committed ‘50 Holocausts’ while standing on German soil is not only a moral disgrace, but a monstrous lie,” Lapid said on Twitter.
“History will never forgive him.”
Six million Jews were killed in Nazi Germany’s Holocaust.
Standing alongside Scholz, Abbas referred to a series of historical incidents in which Palestinians were killed by Israelis in the 1948 war that accompanied the creation of the state of Israel and in the years following.
“From 1947 to the present day, Israel has committed 50 massacres in Palestinian villages and cities, in Deir Yassin, Tantura, Kafr Qasim and many others, 50 massacres, 50 Holocausts,” said Abbas.
The official Palestinian news agency Wafa did not include the Holocaust comments in its report of the meeting with Scholz, and the Palestinian foreign ministry said Lapid’s comments were intended to divert attention from Israel’s “crimes.”
In a statement, the ministry said “the occupying power is not satisfied with committing these crimes on a daily and continuous basis, but also does not tolerate and rejects any talk or statements that remind the Israelis and the international community of the many crimes committed by Israel.”
Abbas’ comment followed months of tension and a brief conflict this month during which 49 people were killed in Gaza after Israel carried out a series of air strikes in response to what it said was an imminent threat from the militant Islamic Jihad group, which fired over 1,000 rockets in response.
Dozens of Palestinians have also been killed in clashes with Israeli security forces in the occupied West Bank, while there have been a number of attacks on Israelis, including an incident on Sunday when eight people were wounded on a bus carrying Jewish worshippers in Jerusalem.
Palestinians seek statehood in territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war. Negotiations have been frozen since 2014.


Oman hospital carries out cardio first on 2 patients

Oman hospital carries out cardio first on 2 patients
Updated 17 August 2022

Oman hospital carries out cardio first on 2 patients

Oman hospital carries out cardio first on 2 patients

MUSCAT: A medical team at the Cardiac Centre in Salalah, Oman have transplanted two Watchman devices for elderly patients suffering recurrent thrombosis due to atrial fibrillation, the Oman News Agnecy reported.

It is the first time the heart implants used for patients have been fitted to a patient in the governorate of Dhofar, Oman, explained Dr Said Musallam Al Ma’ashani, Director of the Cardiology and Surgery Centre.

Previous operations for people in the country have either been taken abroad or to the Royal Hospital in Muscat.