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Morocco Reports 2,776 New COVID-19 Infections, Highest In A Single Day1 minute read



Authorities in Morocco say they recorded 2,776 new COVID-19 cases, the biggest single-day increase since the novel coronavirus pandemic was first recorded in the North African country.

Morocco total number of infections since March 2 has therefore risen to 140,024.

The total number of recoveries from COVID-19 in Morocco as of Wednesday increased to 118,142 after 2,788 new ones were added, the ministry of health said in a statement.

The death toll rose to 2,439 with 29 new fatalities, while 424 people are in intensive care units.

China has helped Morocco in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

A batch of medical supplies donated by the government of northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region was transported on June 8 to Casablanca-Settat in Morocco.

On May 14, China Development Bank sent a batch of donation, including respirators and medical protective masks, to help Morocco fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

China’s Guizhou Province also donated 15,000 surgical gloves, 20,000 medical masks and 2,000 protective suits to help protect Moroccan medical workers fighting the pandemic.


4th Round of Libya’s ‘5+5’ Negotiation Starts – UNSMIL



The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on Monday reported that the fourth round of negotiations of ”Libya’s 5+5” Joint Military Commission (JMC) has started in Geneva.

The JMC consists of five senior military officers chosen by the Government of National Accord and five senior military officers chosen by the Libyan National Army.

“The fourth round of the Libyan JMC talks began at the Palais des Nations in Geneva with the presence and participation of the Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations (ASRSG) and Head of the UNSMIL, Ms Stephanie Williams.

“The launching of this round of talks is marked by in person meetings between the delegations of the two parties to the conflict in Libya.

“The meeting began with the playing of the Libyan national anthem, followed by opening remarks by the ASRSG and the heads of both delegations,’’ the UNSMIL said in a statement.

The UNSMIL said the negotiations would continue until October 24, expressing hope that the talks would result in a solution to all outstanding issues in order to achieve a complete and permanent ceasefire across Libya.

“UNSMIL appreciates the leadership of both parties for facilitating this round of talks. It also thanks the members of both delegations for traveling to Geneva during these unusual conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic,’’ the statement concluded.

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North Africa

Zamalek Take First-Leg Lead in CAF Champions League Semi-Final



Achraf Bencharki headed in the only goal as Zamalek defeated hosts Raja Casablanca in the first leg of the second semi-final of the 2019/20 CAF Champions League.

The Moroccan international winger stunned the hosts in the 18th minute at an empty Stade Mohamed V, heading home a fine cross from Ahmed Sayed Zizo’s cross. It was the 25-year-old’s seventh goal on his seventh appearance in the competition this season. The goal was doubly painful for the hosts as Bencharki was a former star at bitter rivals Wydad Casablanca who he helped win the 2017 CAF Champions League.

The five-time African champions, survived an early scare when Raja’s Soufiane Rahimi went down in the box appealing for a penalty which was waved away by Cameroonian referee Alioum Alioum. Then after nine minutes Raja captain Mohsine Moutaouali teed up Abdelilah Hafidi, but his first time shot flew straight to the keeper.

After the goal, the hosts poured forward in search of a leveller and came close three minutes to half time. Rahimi forced a brilliant save from Zamalek keeper Mohamed Abou Gabal with a well-angled header that had the shot-stopper stretching full length to his left to parry away the effort for a corner.

In the second half, Youssef Obama almost doubled Zamalek’s lead only to see his close-range shot charged down. Raja coach Jamal Sellami made four changes in a bid to find an equalizer. In the 66th minute, they had a flurry of chances.

Badr Benoun’s rifling freekick went against the wall and the rebound fell on Fabrice Ngoma. However, the midfielder’s effort also struck a flurry of bodies inside the box and when the ball was recycled again to him, his flying shot was parried away by the keeper.

Late in the game, Rahimi had a pair of chances that went wasted. His first effort at the stroke of fulltime was deflected for a corner after stretching to direct a headed ball towards goal. His second opportunity was better when he was picked out a by a through ball on the right but he blasted the ball over.

A visibly disappointed Sellami believed his team deserved more from the game. “I believe we deserved a draw at least,” he said.

“I thank my players because they gave their all despite the difficult situation we had. I cannot blame any player today and we were the better side all over the game. We still have a chance in the return leg in Cairo and I believe we are still capable of reaching the final.”

The result puts Zamalek’s quest of securing a sixth Champions League title and back to back continental silverware firmly on course after they won the CAF Confederation Cup last season. This was also Zamalek’s second win over Raja in three CAF Club Competition matches. For Raja, this was only their second defeat in 23 home matches in the Champions League. It was a complete opposite for Zamalek who came to the tie with a poor away record, having only won one in 13.

Zamalek coach Jaime Pacheco made it clear that his team was not celebrating just yet. “My players played to my instructions and we achieved a good result away from home,’ he said.

“We felt exhausted because we had many domestic games in a short time, but we were brave enough to have this game tonight. Nothing is won yet, we have to remain focused in the return leg and achieve our target by going through to the final.”

The White Knights will host the Moroccan champions in the reverse fixture in Cairo on October 24. Last week, three-time African champions Raja Casablanca ended a thrilling Moroccan Botola Pro league campaign to win their first title since 2013.

Only on Saturday, fellow Egyptian Premier League giants Al Ahly had beaten Wydad Casablanca 2-0 in the first leg of the other semi-final fixture in Casablanca, thanks to goals from Mohamed Magdy and Ali Maaloul.

The CAF Champions League final is scheduled to take place in Egypt on November 6. However, the Confederation of African Football noted that it could still hold in Morocco if the two teams from the country (Wydad and Raja) overturn their first-leg deficits and qualify.

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UN Resumes Refugee Flights Out Of Libya After Seven Months Suspension



The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has resumed evacuation flights from Libya to Niger for refugees and migrants, which have provided a crucial lifeline out of dangerous conditions.

UNHCR, in a press statement, said it evacuated on Thursday night a group of 153 vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers out of Libya to the Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) in Niger.

According to the UN agency, this UNHCR-chartered flight marks the resumption of life-saving evacuations from Libya, ending a seven-month long suspension. Humanitarian flights had to be halted in March, due to public health concerns related to the Coronavirus pandemic, which led to the suspension of air traffic in many countries.

Those evacuated yesterday are nationals of Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan, including 16 families and 15 children under the age of 18, many of whom are unaccompanied or separated from their parents.

“With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise in Libya, and some 46,000 confirmed cases across the country, all passengers tested negative prior to departure. They were also given counselling and awareness sessions on how to stay protected and healthy. The group is now undergoing a two-week quarantine in Niger and a further test, in line with health measures to curb the spread of Coronavirus,” the statement said.

“The majority of evacuees were living in the Libyan capital Tripoli. Virtually all of them (97 per cent) have experienced arbitrary detention in Libya including in Tajoura, Zintan, or Triq al Sikka detention centres. Some of them had been detained for more than two years in extremely dire conditions and were recently released thanks to UNHCR advocacy with the Libyan authorities.

“More than 3,400 migrants and asylum-seekers are currently estimated to be held in government-run detention centres in Libya, where conditions are dire and many are at risk of serious abuse.

“The resumption of evacuation flights is especially important now, given the volatile situation in Libya, the rapid spread of Coronavirus and its health and socio-economic impact on refugees and asylum seekers, who have found it increasingly difficult to support themselves and their families.

“UNHCR welcomes the support the Libyan authorities have shown in facilitating the procedures that led to this long-awaited evacuation flight as well as the release of others from detention centres.

“Yesterday’s flight is evidence that despite the threat of COVID-19, evacuations from Libya are possible with joint efforts, shared expertise and medical protocols in place guaranteeing safe transfers.

“In Niger, the evacuated refugees are now receiving humanitarian assistance at the Emergency Transit Mechanism, including shelter, food, medical care and daily courses and activities while efforts to find solutions, such as resettlement, continue.

“The ETM in Niger has been operational since 2017. Thanks to the support of the Nigerien authorities, UNHCR has been able to evacuate from Libya to Niger 3,165 vulnerable asylum-seekers over the past three years.”

In 2020, with this second evacuation, UNHCR has assisted 501 vulnerable refugees out of Libya, including 221 who have been resettled to Europe.

UNHCR continues to advocate with governments to provide more resettlement places and other durable solutions enabling more vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers to leave Libya.

UNHCR also reiterates its call to the Libyan authorities to release all asylum-seekers held in detention and for an end to arbitrary detention.

UNHCR has registered 45,661 refugees and asylum-seekers in Libya.

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