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.


Kuwait’s Nayef Palace granted Islamic Heritage Site status

Kuwait’s Nayef Palace granted Islamic Heritage Site status
Updated 16 sec ago

Kuwait’s Nayef Palace granted Islamic Heritage Site status

Kuwait’s Nayef Palace granted Islamic Heritage Site status
  • ICESCO award recognizes historical significance of 219-room building
  • Decision marks another cultural milestone for Kuwait, official says

KUWAIT: Naif Palace in Kuwait City has been designated an Islamic Heritage Site by the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the Kuwait News Agency reported on Monday.

Dr. Waleed Al-Saif, president of the heritage committee of the Islamic world at ICESCO, said the decision to recognize the palace was made during the committee’s 10th session in Rabat.

He hailed it as another cultural milestone for the country.

Kuwait’s Kazma area, Failaka Island and Al-Qurainya are already on the list.

Other Kuwaiti sites that made the ICESCO preliminary list were: Sheikh Abdullah Al-Jabir Palace, Mubarak Al-Kabeer marine reserve and Boubyan Island.

According to Al-Saif, the committee has members from nine Islamic nations chosen by the culture ministers of 54 Muslim countries.

He said the decision to make Naif Palace an Islamic Heritage Site was made in accordance with international standards of evaluation, adding that such monuments needed to be preserved and protected for future generations.

Naif Palace, which covers an area of 28,802 square meters, was built in 1919, during the reign of Emir Sheikh Salem Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah. It has 219 rooms and also houses a mosque, a garrison dormitory and an ammunition depot.

The palace was expanded in 1950 and now serves a ceremonial role during Ramadan, with a canon drill performed and broadcast on national TV to signal the breaking of fast.


Muslim rescues children from Egypt church fire

Muslim rescues children from Egypt church fire
Updated 11 min 12 sec ago

Muslim rescues children from Egypt church fire

Muslim rescues children from Egypt church fire
  • Muhammad Yahya: I quickly entered the church to save people … and I encountered a lot of fire and smoke
  • The density of the fumes obstructed Yahya’s breathing and vision, so he took off his T-shirt, doused it in water and placed it over his nose to block the fumes

CAIRO: A young Egyptian Muslim rescued five children from Sunday’s fire at the Abu Sefein church in the city of Giza, which killed 41 people and injured 14.

“I quickly entered the church to save people … and I encountered a lot of fire and smoke,” said Muhammad Yahya, who lives next door and was injured during the rescue.

He added that he headed to the church because he heard screams from inside the building. The density of the fumes obstructed Yahya’s breathing and vision, so he took off his T-shirt, doused it in water and placed it over his nose to block the fumes from his respiratory path.

He tried to rescue an elderly man by carrying him on his back, but he slipped due to the large amount of water used to extinguish the fire, and they both fell to the ground.

Yahya broke his leg in the fall and was taken to hospital. He has been visited by priests checking on his health and thanking him for his bravery.


UN envoy says opening roads in Taiz, other Yemeni governorates remains at forefront of efforts

UN envoy says opening roads in Taiz, other Yemeni governorates remains at forefront of efforts
Updated 2 min 19 sec ago

UN envoy says opening roads in Taiz, other Yemeni governorates remains at forefront of efforts

UN envoy says opening roads in Taiz, other Yemeni governorates remains at forefront of efforts
  • UN envoy expressed gratitude for the support of Saudi Arabia, Oman, and UN Security Council
  • Highlighted responsibility of helping Yemen and its people to take the necessary and decisive steps toward peace

LONDON: The UN special envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg said on Monday the opening of roads in Taiz and other Yemeni governorates remains at the forefront of his efforts.

Whilst briefing the UN Security Council on the situation in the country, Grundberg said that despite several proposals being presented to the parties, there has been no progress on the issue.

“Several proposals with different sets of roads and sequencing options have been presented to the parties. It is regrettable that, despite these efforts, there has not been more progress achieved on road openings to date,” Grundberg said. 

The UN envoy also expressed gratitude “for the concerted support” of Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the UN Security Council.

He highlighted the joint responsibility of helping Yemen and its people to take the necessary and decisive steps toward peace to end the conflict and not merely manage it.

He also told the council that since the start of the truce in April, 33 ships were cleared to enter Hodeidah port, bringing in one million metric tons of much-needed fuel products. 

In addition to this, 31 round-trip flights were operated to and from Sanaa, transporting more than 15,000 passengers, he said.

He said that as a result of the support provided by Jordan, the frequency of commercial flights between Sanaa and Amman has increased to three per week.

Grundberg said the latest truce extension that was announced on August 2 “allows us to continue to expeditiously work toward an expanded truce agreement.”

He continued: “I am therefore intensifying my efforts to support the parties in resolving outstanding issues.

“In my discussions with the parties, they continue to emphasize the need to build on the existing truce to achieve a wider array of economic and security priorities and to move toward more durable solutions for issues with political implications.”


Fire-ravaged Abu Sefein Church to undergo repairs

Fire-ravaged Abu Sefein Church to undergo repairs
Updated 15 August 2022

Fire-ravaged Abu Sefein Church to undergo repairs

Fire-ravaged Abu Sefein Church to undergo repairs
  • Egypt’s Armed Forces Engineering Authority tasked with project
  • Cash support for victims’ families from Al-Azhar and the government

CAIRO: President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has tasked the Armed Forces Engineering Authority to restore the Abu Sefein church, which was damaged by a fire that killed 41 people and injured 16 others on Sunday.

Hisham El-Swefy, head of the authority, telephoned Pope Tawadros II to inform him of the plan.

Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb has come to the aid of the families of the victims and is coordinating cash payouts for them with various NGOs.

Al-Tayeb sent a message of support to Pope Tawadros II.

“Al-Azhar and its scholars and sheikhs all stand by their brothers in this tragic accident and extend their sincere condolences to the families of the victims,” he said.

El-Sisi had earlier received messages of condolences from the presidents of Tunisia and Lebanon following the tragedy.

Prosecutor General Hamada El-Sawy confirmed that the Public Prosecution authority had completed its investigation into the incident and found that the victims had died of smoke inhalation.

El-Sawy said that 41 people had died, and 16 others, including four police officers, were injured.

El-Sawy stated that the authority had completed its questioning of the injured people.

The Egyptian Ministry of Interior confirmed that an electrical fault caused the fire, and that it broke out in the air-conditioning system on the second floor of the church building, which includes a number of classrooms.

Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly directed the Minister of Social Solidarity to pay compensation of EGP100,000 ($5,226) to every victim’s family, and a maximum of EGP20,000 ($1,045) to every injured person.

In an earlier statement, the Coptic Orthodox Church had said that the fire broke out during the Divine Liturgy at the building in the north of Giza, and that several worshipers were transferred to the Imbaba and Agouza hospitals.


Iran tanker retrieves oil seized by US, set to leave Greece

Iran tanker retrieves oil seized by US, set to leave Greece
Updated 15 August 2022

Iran tanker retrieves oil seized by US, set to leave Greece

Iran tanker retrieves oil seized by US, set to leave Greece
  • Oil seized by US from Lana prompted Iranian forces to seize two Greek tankers in the Arabian Gulf

ATHENS: An Iranian-flagged tanker has retrieved an oil cargo which the United States had confiscated and is set to leave Greece, sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.
The seizure from the Lana, formerly the Pegas, prompted Iranian forces in May to seize two Greek tankers in the Arabian Gulf which have not yet been released.
The United States had hired a tanker in April to impound the oil onboard the Lana tanker, which had been anchored off Greece.
The oil was then partly removed and placed aboard the Ice Energy tanker, which had been chartered by Washington and had been expected to sail to United States before Greece’s supreme court ruled that the cargo should be returned to Iran.
“The reloading process is complete,” one of the sources said. Another source said it was completed on Sunday.
The embassy of Iran in Athens said on Aug 12 on Twitter that the vessel would sail to Iran after the reloading was completed.
It was not clear if Lana, which had engine problems, could sail unassisted.
For over two months, Lana remained under arrest off the Greek island of Evia, near the town of Karystos. It was tugged to Piraeus following court orders that allowed its release.
The tanker has been anchored off Piraeus since late July.