January 28 – February 02, 2021 | Press review Morocco

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Photo: John S. on Flickr

February 02, 2021

More than 200,000 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in Morocco

200,081 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 until Monday evening in Morocco, said the health ministry in its daily assessment of the vaccination campaign against COVID-19. As a reminder, launched Thursday, January 28 by King Mohammed VI, the vaccination campaign will be free for all citizens with the aim of immunizing all components of the Moroccan people (30 million people, about 80% of the population), to reduce and then eliminate cases of contamination and deaths due to the epidemic and to contain the spread of the virus.

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

Vaccination against COVID-19: The daily report communicated from February 1st onwards.

The Ministry of Health has announced that it will release the daily report of the anti-Covid-19 vaccination campaign, starting Monday at 18:00.
This assessment will be communicated as part of the daily bulletin of the results of the epidemiological surveillance of COVID-19 -=19, the ministry said in a statement.
This bulletin is accessible via the portals www.covidmaroc.ma and www.liqahcorona.ma and the ministry’s pages in social networks, the press release said.
The decision is part of the communication plan for the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign, it says.

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

February 01, 2021

Extension of the restrictions and curfew for a further two weeks

Following the significant increase in cases of Covid-19 contamination in Casablanca, the authorities have decided on new restrictions for the Casablanca prefecture. The curfew being at 22:00, the streets are deserted. After a government communiqué issued on 1 February, the restrictions already decided on 13 January 2021 have been extended for another two weeks, starting this Tuesday at 9 pm, it is said.

These restrictive measures include the national curfew applied from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m. In addition, restaurants, cafés, shops and supermarkets are obliged to close at 8 p.m., while the ban on public or private parties and gatherings remains in force.

The government communiqué states that this decision is based on the recommendations of the Scientific and Technical Commission on the need to maintain the measures necessary to fight the coronavirus, especially after the evolution of this epidemic at the global level following the appearance of new variants of the virus in some neighbouring countries.

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

Morocco-Spain: Drownings or no man’s lands, the cruel fate of migrants in 2020

While the number of deaths at sea has risen sharply in 2020, defenders of migrants’ rights stress the contrast with the less significant evolution of departures. In a regional analysis which concerns Morocco in particular, Alarm Phone expressed concern about the lack of means mobilised for rescue at sea, but also about deportations at the border.

The high number of migrants who died at sea, which contrasts with the drop in departures, would be a consequence of the lack of means mobilised by the coastguards in the Mediterranean, “or even the lack of means made available to them, to monitor the huge Spanish SAR zone, particularly when boats leave from very far south”. This is Alarm Phone’s interpretation of the figures, showing that the year 2020 has been the deadliest year for sea crossings to Spain.

Published at the end of January, a regional analysis of the western Mediterranean carried out by Alarm Phone, covering the period between 1 October and 31 December, indicates that “despite the courageous efforts” of Salvamento Maritimo members, the management of sea rescues “requires more people and more resources”. “The fact remains that the increasing danger of the journey is due to the negligence of the Moroccan but also Spanish coastguards”, noted the NGO in its document that reached Yabiladi. For her, it is “this criminal negligence” which often has “deadly consequences”.

Departures continue despite tighter controls

In figures, 41,094 arrivals have been recorded in the Western Mediterranean in the year 2020, which is “a higher number than in other regions of the Mediterranean Sea”. 71% of them were registered in the Canary Islands, 22% in the Iberian Peninsula and 7% in the Balearic Islands. In other words, arrivals in Spain have increased by 28.7% in one year, according to the Caminando Fronteras collective, but the number of deaths has risen by 143%, indicating to Alarm Phone the limits of rapid rescue interventions at sea.

Moreover, the reinforcement of security at the departure points has slowed down some crossings in Nador. “Although over the period covered by this report, boats have more or less regularly managed to reach the Spanish mainland from the Nador area, the route still seems to be largely blocked,” stressed Alarm Phone, reporting cases that mainly concern sub-Saharan communities. But at times, some nationals “manage to organise a ‘convoy’ and escape the controls”, according to the NGO.

Still, overall, “it is mostly Moroccan nationals who left Nador between October and the end of December”, according to Alarm Phone, who accompanied seven boats from the region. It is currently very difficult for sub-Saharan nationals to organise the crossing. The facts can be explained by the situation of foreigners in the forests around Nador, “extremely precarious every winter” and even more so in times of pandemic. Also, “the price of the crossings seems to have increased, perhaps due to the more severe repression of those arrested during the raids and accused of organising trips”, the NGO said.

Deportations to no-man’s-lands

Evictions by Morocco have also continued, according to the NGO. Between 15 October and 5 November, 45 sub-Saharan nationals, including four women and three minors, were expelled from Nador and Tangier, to be left “in no man’s land”. Of these, 35 returned to Oujda, while the other 10 gave no further sign of life and reportedly crossed the border into Algeria.

In the same vein, “activists from Oujda and Alarm Phone Sahara have reported and documented deportations from Algeria to Niger”. According to the report, a total of 113 people, including 31 women, were deported from Maghnia and Tlemcen between 25 October and 26 November. “In groups of about 40 people each, they were crammed into buses and taken to Assamaka, a town on the border with Niger,” the same source adds, pointing out that an unofficial agreement between Algeria and Niger for 2014 provides for these nationals to be deported to Agadez, “to prepare their ‘voluntary return’ with the support of the IOM”.

Last November, no fewer than 1,089 people from 15 sub-Saharan countries, including many women and minors, were thus expelled “in two unofficial convoys from Algeria” and left in Assamaka, according to Alarm Phone Sahara.

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

January 30, 2021

NGOs are rising up in favour of migrants: “Vaccines for all”

In a joint declaration, Moroccans and other associations and organisations, defending migrants’ rights, call on the authorities to include irregular migrants in Morocco in the vaccination campaign against the “Corona” virus.

These NGOs are the Council of Sub-Saharan Migrants in Morocco (CMSM), the Democratic Organisation for Migrant Workers in Morocco (ODT-I), “Documents for All” and the Beni Snassen Association for Culture, Development and Solidarity (ABCDS).

The signatories thanked “the Moroccan authorities for their efforts, throughout this difficult period characterised by the Corona pandemic, which has made it possible to mitigate somewhat the impact on the immigrant population in a regular situation in Morocco, which is already in difficult, even fragile, conditions, and praised the royal instructions, to allow migrants to benefit, free of charge, from vaccination against COVID-19”.

The joint declaration also alerts the authorities to a certain number of technical and administrative aspects which “threaten to exclude or hinder the entry of the greatest number of immigrants to the vaccines, which are divided into five categories. Holders of a residence permit that is still valid, those with an expired residence permit, and immigrants without residence, whose application for establishment of status was rejected in 2014 and/or 2017, in addition to the two categories of immigrants who do not have resident status, and who have not applied for regularisation of their resident status, and immigrants settled in non-urban areas, such as forests and mountains”.

The joint communiqué notes that, with the exception of the first category, the rest of irregular migrants in Morocco do not meet the conditions for registration in order to benefit from vaccination due to the lack of residence status. The signatory associations call on the Moroccan authorities to put in place measures that take into account the private life of the immigrant population, and to adopt greater flexibility and adaptability towards it, so that those who applied for immigrant status in 2014 and 2017 and were rejected can benefit from the national campaign, in line with the humanitarian approach adopted by King Mohammed VI.

The associations called for clear messages to be sent out to reassure immigrants, especially those in an irregular administrative situation, with the help of civil society actors by joining forces to raise awareness of the need for vaccination, as well as to identify immigrants from the latter two groups.

In this context, Younes Foudil, coordinator of “Documents for All”, points out that the registration site for making an appointment for vaccination poses a problem for these particular groups and particularly those who have never applied for regularisation of their status, as well as for those who arrived in Morocco after 2017 (after the end of the second campaign to regularise the legal status of irregular migrants in Morocco).

Mr.Foudil added, in his confidence to Hespress, that the signatory bodies call on the State to take “special measures” that take into account “the particular case of this category of irregular residents, and facilitate access to vaccination for groups without a residence permit by putting in place practical measures to facilitate the registration of these people on the vaccination site with fixed dates for being inoculated and accompany this act of good faith with clear messages to reassure them, knowing that irregular migrants fear that the vaccination will be followed by expulsion”.

The association actor also explained that the signatory bodies express, through their joint declaration, “their willingness to cooperate with the authorities, to invest their knowledge in the field, and the credibility they have with irregular migrants, in order to persuade them to register for vaccination”, given that “the problem is linked to public health and royal instructions”. In other words, free vaccination should include everyone in Morocco, without exception.

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

January 29, 2021

Fight against corruption: Morocco is still a bad example

Every year the Moroccan economy pays a heavy price for corruption. Despite efforts, Morocco has lost 6 places in 2020 in the Transparency International ranking.
This year again, Morocco continues its retrograde trend in the Transparency’s Corruption Perception Index ranking. In the latest report of the NGO, published on 28 January, the kingdom’s ranking fell by six places and one point in 2020 compared to the previous year, with a score of 40 out of 100, falling to 86th place out of 180 countries. It is an understatement to say that the national anti-corruption strategy launched in 2016 has not borne fruit.

A need for “a real political will”

According to a communiqué from Transparency Maroc, this stagnation is primarily the result of “the absence of signs and a willingness on the part of the state to seriously fight against corruption”. For the association, Morocco’s exit from endemic corruption requires “a real political will, not limited to rhetoric”, notably through the effective implementation of the national anti-corruption strategy.

The Secretary General of Transparency Morocco explained to us as early as October 2020 that the main cause of the weak results of the fight against corruption in the kingdom was the lack of political will regarding its implementation, citing the example of the prevarication of political groups in Parliament on the draft law on illicit enrichment that has been dragging on for nearly five years, or the regulation of conflict of interest provided for in the Constitution of July 2011 and still not addressed to date.

In this sense, Transparency Maroc calls for the law on the national body of probity and the fight against corruption to be implemented, ensuring its independence, means and possibilities of investigation. It would also be a matter of adopting a law on conflict of interest to stop those observed every day, particularly in public procurement, to criminalise illicit enrichment within the framework of the fundamental principles set out in the law, and to reform the laws on the declaration of assets. And to implement these laws.

Corruption and pandemic, the jackpot

Against the backdrop of the pandemic, Transparency International’s annual report, published on 28 January, also reveals the extent to which persistent corruption undermines health systems and contributes to the decline of democracy.

Countries that score high on the Corruption Perceptions Index are investing more in health care. These countries are better able to provide universal health coverage and are less likely to undermine democratic norms and institutions or the rule of law. Work by Transparency International’s Global Health Programme shows that corruption deprives the health sector of US$500 billion each year worldwide.

There is a correlation between the level of public sector corruption and the level of investment in health care.

According to the international organisation, corruption is a critical threat to the lives and livelihoods of citizens, especially when associated with a public health emergency. There is a correlation between the level of public sector corruption and the level of investment in health care.

Uruguay, for example, the top-ranked country in Latin America (71 points), invests heavily in health care and has a strong epidemiological surveillance system, which has facilitated its fight against COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, such as yellow fever and Zika.  Conversely, Bangladesh, at 26 points, invests little in health care, while corruption flourishes in the COVID-19 era, whether it be bribes in health clinics or diversion of aid.

According to Transparency International, corruption is also pervasive in the procurement of medical supplies. Countries with higher levels of corruption also tend to commit the most serious abuses of the rule of law and democratic institutions in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.

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

January 28, 2021

H.M. the King launches the vaccination campaign against COVID-19

His Majesty the King kicked off yesterday Thursday the national vaccination campaign against coronavirus. A press release from the Royal Cabinet had previously recalled that “following the receipt of various batches, the vaccine against the COVID-19 virus is available in the Kingdom of Morocco, and this in sufficient quantity to start the national vaccination campaign in the best conditions.

“In accordance with the High Royal Instructions, this vaccination campaign will be free for all citizens” and “it will be carried out gradually and in tranches and will benefit all Moroccan citizens and residents whose age ranges from 17 to over 75 years”, “which will make it possible to achieve the expected levels of collective immunisation and protect the population against this pandemic”, the same source said.

A Comprehensive mobilisation to ensure full success of the operation

The Ministry of Health has mobilized the human and material resources necessary to carry out the national campaign of anti-coronavirus vaccination (COVID-19), was assured Monday in Casablanca, on the sidelines of the start of the distribution of the first doses of the vaccine in the different regions of the Kingdom. Ministry officials, present at the premises of the Autonomous Refrigeration Authority of Casablanca (RAFC) where the vaccines are stored in conditions of enhanced security, have detailed the system put in place regarding the human resources used, the logistical and technical capacities deployed and the nature of partnerships with private sector operators involved.

“Following the high directives of His Majesty King Mohammed VI and within the framework of the national vaccination strategy against COVID-19, the Ministry of Health has mobilized enormous human, logistical and technical resources to make this operation a success,” said Ahdi Mahjoub, director of supply at the ministry, in a statement to the press.

This operation, which involves the mobilization of doctors, pharmacists, nurses, technicians and administrative staff, has required the establishment of partnerships with the private sector to benefit from its expertise in logistics and technology, he continued. In this sense, he mentioned the provision of the Ministry of Health with a storage capacity exceeding 50,000 m3. As for the contribution of the delegations, the storage capacity of provincial pharmacies and vaccination centres has been upgraded through the acquisition of technical means and important refrigeration facilities, he said. “We have had the opportunity to supply the various centres with the necessary pharmaceutical products (means of protection and hygiene) to ensure the smooth running of this operation,” he explained. On the information system side, he was ahead of the implementation of computer applications that allow digital monitoring of the entire operation, from receipt to delivery, with temperature monitoring to ensure proper conservation of the vaccine according to international standards. To ensure the success of this unprecedented major operation, substantial human and logistical resources were also put in place.

2,880 primary health care facilities were designed and the majority of health professionals were mobilised, as well as a significant number of vaccination stations attached to them, to develop vaccination activities. The operations will be carried out in two modes :

  • A fixed mode where the population moves to the vaccination station.
  • A mobile mode, where the vaccination teams attached to the station will move to mobile vaccination points according to a pre-established programme, the number of which will be determined during local planning at 7,000 points. The number of doses required for each vaccination is two.

For the vaccine from the “Sinopharm” laboratory, the minimum interval between the two injections is 21 days, while for the vaccine from the “Astrazeneca” laboratory it is 28 days. Citizens and foreign residents belonging to the targeted categories can obtain the vaccination appointment and information about the vaccination centre by visiting the portalwww.liqahcorona.ma or by sending an SMS to the free number 1717. In compliance with the High Royal Instructions, Morocco has acquired a sufficient quantity of vaccines for 33 million inhabitants (66 million doses).

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

COVID-19: AstraZeneca defends the effectiveness of its vaccine on the elderly

The pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has denied information reported by two German newspapers that questioned the effectiveness of its Covid-19 vaccine on the elderly.

“The articles claiming that the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine is only 8% effective in adults over 65 are completely false,” said a spokesman for the Swedish-British group.

While the company is still awaiting a decision from the European Medicines Agency on whether to approve the vaccine in the EU, tensions have risen sharply between London and Brussels over the vaccine developed in partnership with Oxford University after AstraZeneca announced that it would not be able to deliver the weekly quantities it had committed to in time due to a “drop in yield” at one of its manufacturing sites.

This argument does not seem to have convinced EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, who described AstraZeneca’s intention to deliver “significantly fewer doses of the vaccine than agreed and announced” as “unacceptable” in the coming weeks.

The AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine is the first vaccine, the results of which have been published in scientific journals and have been approved by the prestigious medical journal The Lancet. Clinical studies have shown that this vaccine is highly safe, as it causes only mild side effects such as headache, fever, pain and redness at the injection site.

Unlike the US vaccines Pfizer-BioNTec and Moderna, which require extremely low temperatures of -70°C for the former and -20°C for the latter, the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine requires temperatures between 2°C and 8°C for storage and transport, i.e. inside ordinary refrigerators like other vaccines previously used.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose country has approved the vaccine for use including the elderly, noted that the UK Health Products Authority has rated the vaccine as “very good and effective” and that it offers “a high degree of protection”.

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