01 – 07 December, 2020 | Morocco Press Review

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December 07, 2020

Free of charge, side effects, organisation…: All you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine

The launch date of the campaign depends on the visibility of the arrivals.

The Minister of Health, Khalid Ait Taleb, convened Friday, December 4 in Rabat the National Technical Committee on Immunization. The minister called for mass vaccination to achieve herd immunity and stem the spread of the virus. No date was given for the official start of the vaccination campaign. “The date for the launch of the campaign depends intimately on the visibility of the arrivals. The government will officially announce it in due course, with the necessary awareness and communication campaigns to ensure the success of this nationwide operation,” he said.

In a statement to AFP, the minister said that Morocco hopes to launch the campaign by the end of the year to immunize in three months some 20 million adults. At the committee meeting, the minister said precautionary measures will have to be maintained, including the wearing of protective masks, distancing and regular hand washing, “up to 60% of the vaccinated population in order to achieve group immunity”. The supply of the vaccine will be ensured at the territorial and national level, while the distribution of doses will take place at the local and provincial levels, the minister said, while calling for compliance with preventive measures even after the vaccination campaign. The Minister also stressed the importance of updating and improving the vaccination strategy so that it is applicable in the field. The Health Department has been working with the Ministry of the Interior in the preparations for the vaccination campaign on aspects relating to logistics, security and traceability.

With regard to the fact that the vaccine will be free of charge, the minister indicated that it will be subsidised by the State, which will take care of the needy and those on the front line. “Discussions regarding the total free of charge of the vaccine against COVID-19 are however still ongoing within the government,” he noted. It should be noted that the vaccine will be reimbursed by mutual and social security organisations. For his part, the president of the National Technical Committee for Vaccination, Moulay Tahar Alaoui, said that a return to normal life will largely depend on the vaccination of a large part of the population. He pointed out that the vaccine will make it possible to increase the human body’s resistance to the virus, while specifying that the vaccine “is not a medicine” but a prevention against the disease. Like the Minister of Health, Prof. Tahar Alaoui pleaded for the maintenance of barrier measures despite the launch of the vaccination campaign.

For his part, Prof. Moulay Said Afif, member of the National Committee and President of the Moroccan Society of Medical Sciences (SMSM) and the National Health Federation (FNS), said it is a safe and effective vaccine whose results have been demonstrated in the United Arab Emirates and China, which has vaccinated more than a million of its population. He said he wanted to reassure people about the vaccine, adding that during the clinical trials in which Morocco participated, no serious side effects were observed. The vaccine can cause redness, pain at the injection site, or a migraine. Prof. Afif said that vaccination remains the only way and the only effective treatment to deal with COVID-19.

For her part, the paediatrician-neonatologist and member of the National Technical Committee on Vaccination, Amina Barakat, noted that the vaccine is safe for pregnant women. According to the specialist, it is an inactivated (or inert) vaccine that has lost all infectivity. The vaccine does not concern children under 18 years of age. “No tests have been carried out on this section of the population for the moment. The disease is generally not serious in children,” she said. Some 2,880 vaccination points have been mobilised to carry out the process.

Priority will be given to health workers, public authorities, law enforcement agencies, national education personnel and people over 65 years of age with chronic illnesses. This vaccine will be administered in two injections (D0 and D21), since a single dose will not give the body the desired immunity.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

Moroccan migrants denounce the “inhuman” conditions of their stay in the Canaries

Irregulars of Moroccan nationality denounced, on Sunday, the “inhuman” conditions in which they live in the military camp of Barranco Seco, in Las Palmas.

In statements given to the Spanish media OK Diario, they said they “have not taken a shower for days”, that they “are cold at night” and that they “have no light in the tents where they sleep”.

One of the young people confided that he arrived on the coast of the Canary Islands last Saturday around midnight. “We arrived by boat,” he said, adding that they had to pay money to get to Spain. “There were 35 of us in the boat,” he adds.

“They are barely covered. The luckiest ones have sweatshirts. The others wear a t-shirt and shorts (…) Some wear swimming pool flip-flops, others cloth trainers and the luckiest trainers. There is no sign of any warm clothing (…) essential for the time of year we are in,” the media reports.

Diario adds that these migrants have “only a thin and small blanket”, recalling that at this time of year, “the temperature on any night in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria can be 15 degrees”, in addition to the “high humidity”. These migrants also have no interpreters, “which hinders their communication with the police and health workers”.

The same source recalls that “before Barranco Seco became a makeshift area for the reception of illegal immigrants, it was a ‘military powder depot’. The Barranco Seco camp is in the middle of nowhere. It is located ten kilometres from the city centre of Las Palmas, at the bend in the GC-5 road”.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

December 06, 2020

Extension of preventive measures for 15 days in Agadir

The local authorities of the Agadir Ida-Outanane prefecture announced on Saturday 5 December the extension for 15 days of the implementation of the measures decided to strengthen the prevention against the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19).
This decision follows the conclusions of regular monitoring operations of the evolution of the epidemiological situation and after the increase in the number of cases of contamination during the last few weeks, indicates a press release from the prefectural monitoring committee.
On 20 November last, the local authorities of the Agadir Ida-Outanane prefecture decided to close the beaches as well as Souk El Had and the local markets at 3 pm.
It is also a question of the obligation to have an exceptional authorization to move to and from the prefecture of Agadir-Ida Outanane, the prohibition of any form of night travel between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., with the exception of travel for health and professional reasons, as well as the closure of cafés, restaurants, shops and large shopping centres at 8 p.m.
It also includes the closure of hammams and beauty salons, with the exception of hairdressing salons, the closure of local sports halls, parks and grounds, as well as the suspension of transport by bus at 9 p.m. and the encouragement of teleworking in cases where this is possible.
The local authorities have therefore invited the population to support these preventive measures.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

Blood donation: COVID-19 must not be an obstacle

Every year, Morocco celebrates the National Blood Donor Day on 5 December. This national campaign, which is being held this year under the slogan “Blood donation is everyone’s responsibility”, is intended to thank blood donors and raise awareness of the importance of this act. Since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, Morocco has recorded a significant decrease in donations. As of Monday 30 November, the national stock of blood products was 3,360 bags of blood, which is the equivalent of a consumption of only 3 days. An alarming figure given that the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a minimum safety stock of 7 days.

On the occasion of this campaign, the National Centre for Blood Transfusion and Haematology (CNTSH) reminds that the need for blood products persists during this period of pandemic which should not be an obstacle to Moroccan citizens to accomplish the noble gesture of blood donation, while respecting preventive measures.
The Centre encourages its national partners working in the field of blood donation to participate in collaboration with the transfusion centres in the development of a national blood collection programme targeting for each region the self-sufficiency in blood products. It is important to point out that Morocco needs 1,000 donations per day to be able to meet the needs of patients with blood bags.

At the national level, the total number of donations in 2019 was 334,510, an increase of 4% compared to 2018 with more than 13,174 donations. An increase of 7% is also noted compared to the target set in 2019 with more than 24,184 donations. The Centre reports that this year Morocco is in the process of reaching the 1% which is the percentage of donations in relation to the general population, and in 2019 this percentage was 0.99%. The national average of voluntary donors is 93%, leaving almost 7% of donations as compensation donations.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

04 December, 2020

The World Bank approves a 400 million dollar loan to Morocco

“Morocco, which has reacted quickly and decisively to help the most vulnerable in the face of the VIDC-19 pandemic, is now accelerating reforms to strengthen its social protection system – an initiative that the World Bank is proud to support,” said the World Bank’s director of operations for the Maghreb, Jesko Hentschel, quoted in a statement from the Washington-based financial institution.

He added that “this project supports the country’s response to the pandemic as well as its plans to build a comprehensive, effective and vital social protection system for vulnerable populations. “The COVID-19 Emergency Social Protection Response Project will support poor and vulnerable households during the pandemic and strengthen their resilience to future shocks.

The programme will also fund social assistance to vulnerable groups while building the capacity of the poorest to cope with the crisis. This financial support covers both emergency cash transfers from the Special Fund for the Management of the Pandemic in Morocco and allocations linked to existing social protection programmes.

“The project fully supports the Moroccan government’s efforts and ambitions to strengthen the social protection system by contributing to the deployment of family allowances and improving governance, digital infrastructure and the coherence of the various social programmes,” the World Bank statement said.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

Vaccine against COVID-19: the details and challenges of the immunological passport

While the vaccination campaign is still being developed, the introduction of an immunological passport that would be required for travel raises many questions. Here are some of the answers.

In an interview given to the 2M television channel on 30 November, the Minister of Health announced that “it will not be possible to travel without a covid passport”.

“We need to monitor the vaccinated people who will be registered on electronic lists and will be given a QR code, because we want Moroccans to be among the first to be vaccinated since the whole world will be asking for an immunological passport,” explained Khalid Ait Taleb.

A forecast based on the decision of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to launch its “COVID-19 passport” very soon. Indeed, IATA announced this week that it is in the final phase of developing what it hopes will be a universally accepted documentation, the American daily The Hill reported.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

How COVID-19 exacerbates the mechanisms of violence against women

It is well known that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated discriminatory factors, increased women’s vulnerability and had an impact on violence against women. This is even acknowledged in the latest UN Women report on “Violence against women and girls in times of crisis – the experience of confinement in Morocco”, to which some twenty civil society organisations (CSOs) and networks of listening centres for victims of violence contributed. This is a qualitative analysis of the calls received by these listening centres.

Like the rest of the world, Morocco lacks national quantitative data on violence during confinement. This report is therefore intended to shed a qualitative light on the point of view of 19 associative listening centres which have mobilised to provide assistance to victims, despite constraints and limited means. The document explains how the confinement of women with their aggressors has given rise to some of the forms of violence that are a direct consequence of prolonged physical proximity.

When COVID-19 increases women’s vulnerability

This includes physical violence, sometimes hiding other violence. In fact, they are sometimes accompanied by sexual violence, which is less reported in proportion due to the intimate nature of these acts. In addition to this violence, psychological violence is almost systematically added to the violence, which reinforces the general state of stress and anxiety. This type of violence reinforces the aggressor’s grip and makes the process of coming out of the violent situation even more complex.

In the context of the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic, the economic violence to which women have been exposed has been particularly evident. For women who are subjected to physical, psychological and/or sexual violence, economic dependence is another weapon in the aggressor’s arsenal. The threat of eviction from the home, without means of subsistence, is experienced as a fear justifying the “acceptance of violence” by the women concerned.

Furthermore, the crisis has also led to an increase in violence in the digital space. The virality of digital violence, the wide public to which it exposes the women concerned, and the difficulty of removing the traces of these attacks make it a violence of a unique kind. Finally, in addition to these intimate forms of experiencing violence, there is also the institutional violence reported by some women in their relations with certain agents of the authorities and related to the application of the law and social and family rejection, and that which occurs in the professional environment.

Society or the second executioner

Having said this, there are several obstacles for a woman in a violent situation who is determined to seek help, starting with society’s viewpoint. The document points to the “normalisation of this violence – by its trivialisation, legitimation, minimisation” which makes society itself complicit. Indeed, according to the HCP, in its latest survey on violence against women in Morocco, such violence is seen as the price to be paid to maintain family cohesion but also as a private matter that is best kept secret.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

December 03, 2020

COVID-19: Japan lends 200 million dollars to Morocco

In order to support Morocco’s response programme to the COVID-19 pandemic, Morocco and Japan have sealed an exchange of notes on a Japanese loan of US$200 million. This exchange was signed yesterday Wednesday in Rabat by Mohamed Benchaâboun, the Minister of Economy, Finance and Administrative Reform and Takashi Shinozuka, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Morocco. This exchange of notes constitutes the agreement between the two governments. In order to start the procedure for the execution of this financing, the loan agreement was also signed by Kenji Yokota, the Deputy Resident Representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Morocco. For both parties, the aim is to strengthen the ties of friendship and cooperation existing between Morocco and Japan. Co-financed with the African Development Bank (AfDB), within the framework of the ACFA programme (Accelerated Co-Financing Facility for Africa), this budgetary support from Japan aims to support Morocco’s efforts to deal with the health, social and economic crisis caused by the pandemic, by making additional resources available to the kingdom to carry out emergency health and social interventions and improve the resilience of the national economy.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

The prolonged state of health emergency on January 10, 2021 in Morocco

On Thursday 3 December, the Council of Government adopted the draft decree extending the validity period of the state of public health emergency to deal with the spread of COVID-19.

This draft decree extends the state of health emergency throughout the national territory until January 10, 2021 at 6 pm.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

02 December, 2020

COVID-19: Germany releases 10 billion dirham aid for Morocco

In a press release issued on December 2, the embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany announces the release of 10 billion dirhams (MMDH) in aid for Morocco. “Germany is intensifying its commitment to development cooperation and is supporting Morocco with a package of more than 10 billion dirhams (1 billion euros) by helping to mitigate the social and economic consequences imposed by the crisis of COVID-19,” it is said.

This new commitment, adds the press release, “should make a rapid and significant contribution to the management of the COVID-19 crisis in Morocco, to the sustainable transformation of the Moroccan economy and to the further development of green energy,” reads the communication received by Le Desk. “More than two thirds of the new commitment (more than 7 MMDH) are earmarked for a major emergency aid programme in the face of this pandemic”, the same source indicates, stating that “the COVID-19 Fund of Morocco on the one hand benefits from a support of 3 MMDH, on the other hand more than an amount of 4 MMDH will be allocated to the Guarantee Mechanism (GCC) to support especially the multitude of small and medium enterprises in Morocco”.

The diplomatic representation also emphasises that “Germany continues to help Morocco to achieve its own development objectives, particularly in the field of green energy. As a result, nearly 900 MDH will be devoted to the promotion of green hydrogen (Power-to-X), particularly the construction of the first industrial reference facility on the African continent”.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

The EU wants to improve the mechanism for the return of irregular migrants to Morocco

The European Union wants to improve cooperation with Morocco for the return of its illegal migrants and, at the same time, discuss visa facilitation, said the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, in Rabat on Tuesday. I am here with a mandate to negotiate readmission and visa facilitation, we will see how the discussions go’, she said during a press briefing at the start of a two-day official visit.

The ageing Europe needs labour, and irregular arrivals are scaring European citizens (…): For me, having fewer irregular arrivals and sending back those who are not allowed to stay are closely linked to visa facilitation and legal migration,’ she explained. In the midst of the migration crisis in the Canary Islands, her first visit to Morocco also aims to “continue discussions” on readmission mechanisms launched by the Spanish Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, last week during a visit to Rabat.

Irregular arrivals in the Spanish archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa “have increased by more than 1000%” this year, “it seems that more than half of the migrants are Moroccan and it is important to know how to ensure that they return,” the commissioner said.

Ylva Johansson, who also intends to discuss with the Moroccan authorities their “needs” in terms of migration management and the “means necessary for shared benefits” said Tuesday in Rabat, after a meeting with the Interior Minister, Abdelouafi Laftit, that Morocco is a “very reliable” partner with which the European Union (EU) wants to continue the privileged partnership that binds them. “We have a very good cooperation and a very privileged partnership with Morocco,” she added.

Ylva Johansson, who is visiting Morocco with her counterpart in the Neighbourhood and Enlargement Policy, Oliver Varhelyi, expressed the EU’s desire to see “this good partnership” continue and strengthen, beyond security and migration issues. Speaking to the press on the issue of migration, the European official said that although migration is a normal phenomenon, it must be “managed together” and within the framework of “a close and mutually beneficial partnership”.

The Commissioner, who said she wanted to “work even more closely” with the Kingdom, expressed her willingness to learn from Morocco’s experience in this area, while being open to other experiences. In this context, she stressed the importance of “working closely” with EU Member States on migration issues, within the framework of a “pragmatic” approach and “inclusive cooperation with Morocco and all Member States”. Ylva Johansson took the opportunity to praise the “enormous” efforts undertaken by Morocco in the management of the migration issue.

Since 2018, Morocco has received 343 million euros in European aid from various programmes (police training, education, etc.), according to data published on Tuesday. The European Union sees each year between two and three million regular arrivals (workers, students or refugees) from different countries of the world. About half of those who enter legally leave. Last year there were about 100,000 expulsion decisions, about a third of which were followed by actual return, mostly to Ukraine and the Balkans, according to figures released Tuesday. Yvla Johansson, who is leading the reform of the European migration pact, pleads for greater efficiency in the return of illegal migrants to their countries of origin and considers it a priority to obtain “good readmission agreements”.

The European Commissioner for Enlargement and ENP for a detailed plan of the bilateral partnership

The European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), Oliver Varhelyi, pleaded in Rabat on Tuesday for a detailed economic plan to further deepen the Morocco-EU partnership, while praising Morocco’s “exemplary” management of the repercussions of the health crisis linked to the new coronavirus pandemic. “Morocco is a credible partner of the European Union, hence the importance of drawing up together a detailed economic plan for a deeper partnership between the two parties,” the European Commissioner stressed at a joint press briefing with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans Residing Abroad, Nasser Bourita, at the end of their talks in Rabat. He added in this regard that the ideas, paths and avenues are now clear to put on the table as early as next spring.

The objective of this visit to Morocco is to identify concrete projects to be implemented, he said, stressing the importance of implementing joint projects to promote the economies of both parties.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

01 December, 2020

No arrival of the Chinese vaccine in Morocco to date

For the past few days, rumours of a first arrival of the Chinese anti-covid vaccine in Morocco have been relayed en masse. Some media even report the delivery, on Tuesday, aboard a Royal Air Maroc (RAM) plane of a million doses of the vaccine developed by the Sinopharm laboratories, from Beijing. The information is false and is denied to 2M.ma by a source authorized at the Ministry of Health.

“Everything circulating around the arrival of the vaccine is false (…) any news on this subject will be announced in an official communiqué from the Ministry in which we will give all the details on this subject,” our source said.

As a reminder, the Ministry of Health has so far made no official announcement regarding the date of the start of the national vaccination campaign against COVID-19, nor about its organization on the national territory.

Morocco, having participated in the last phase of the tests of the vaccine in question, has already placed a large order with Sinopharm. It is one of the first countries in the world to have announced the imminent start of a nationwide vaccination campaign.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

Vaccination is not compulsory…But!

Vaccination against COVID-19 will not be compulsory, according to the Minister of Health, Khalid Aït Taleb, however, it could become so in some cases!

With the national anti-COVID-19 campaign fast approaching, the debate on the compulsory nature of vaccination is growing. After several weeks of speculation, Health Minister Khalid Aït Taleb has settled the issue: “The anti-Covid vaccine will not be compulsory but voluntary,” he said in a report broadcast Sunday evening on the 2M channel. Nevertheless, there are a thousand and one ways to make the vaccine compulsory without actually decreeing it. This is at least what we take away from his speech, in which he stressed that in the future it “will not be possible to travel without a COVID-19 passport”. It is for this reason that the vaccines chosen by Morocco are recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and are part of the COVAX programme, which will allow the vaccinated Moroccan to travel anywhere in the world.

The minister also explained that it is necessary to follow up on the vaccinated people and register them on electronic lists. The latter will be assigned “a code”, added Aït Taleb, stressing that Morocco wants its citizens to be “among the first” to be vaccinated since “the whole world will ask for an immunological passport”.

Having said that, he said the Kingdom is making final preparations before the deployment of its national vaccination programme, “we are working on the legal basis, logistics, vaccination programming and also on central and regional support and post-vaccination monitoring,” he said, before adding that the latter is more important than the vaccination itself.

Vaccine free of charge

In addition, Khalid Aït Taleb recalled that the vaccination operation “will be free of charge for the needy and at risk people”, and refundable for the rest of the citizens benefiting from medical coverage. Nevertheless, in an interview given to the Russian agency Sputnik, he had not ruled out the possibility of free vaccination for the whole population: “Nothing is set as negotiations are still underway”. In addition to the national vaccination programme, Morocco aims to become a producer of vaccines of all kinds with a high-tech vaccine production platform in the technological city of Mohammed VI in Tangiers. This factory will enable the development of “made in Morocco” vaccines and ensure the country’s self-sufficiency while supplying the African continent and neighbouring Maghreb countries.

For more information, please consult ( in French) the following link.