Sunday, May 23, 2010

Morocco in the News: May 18th - 23rd

The World Health Organization (WHO) has decided to certify Morocco a malaria-free country.
    The certification of Morocco's eradication of the disease, signed by the WHO Director-General, was submitted, on Tuesday morning at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, to Moroccan Health Minister Yasmina Baddou on the occasion of the 63rd session of the World Health Assembly.
   "On the basis of conclusions regarding the situation of malaria in Morocco, drawn by the WHO assessment groups in 2008 and 2009 … the WHO has decided to put Morocco on the list of countries having succeeded in eradicating malaria," the document said.

    Baddou told MAP she was glad about this certification, noting that only Morocco and the United Arab Emirates have obtained this certificate in the WHO East Mediterranean region.
    She pointed out that the latest case of malaria goes back to 2005, adding that Morocco has thus achieved one of the MDGs.
    The 63rd session of the World Health Assembly (17–21 May 2010) is due to discuss a number of public health issues, including the implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005), the monitoring of the achievement of the health-related MDGs, strategies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol, and counterfeit medical products.

Princess Lalla Meryem Receives Women World Leaders' Prize
Paris - Princess Lalla Meryem received on Thursday in Paris an international trophy awarded by the Women World Leaders Association (Femmes Leaders Mondiales).

    The Prize was awarded to the Princess, in her quality as Chairwoman of the National Union of Moroccan Women (UNFM), in recognition of her untiring efforts to reinforce the status of Moroccan, Arab and African women and her remarkable actions to promote women participation in development and progress.
    The statuette prize is also a tribute to the contribution of the Princess in promoting the image of Morocco as a key mediator of peace, development and intercultural events.
    On this occasion, Chairwoman of Femme Leaders Mondiales Nicole Barbin highlighted the considerable actions devoted by Princess Lalla Meryem both at the national level and at the international scene in her quality as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors.
    The Princess received the prize during a Gala dinner held under the high patronage of the French President Nicolas Sarkozy with the attendance notably of top French officials in addition to former Ministers, eminent artists and businessmen.

Morocco's children in danger from their entourage.

Minister of Social Development says 42% of sexual acts against children are committed by those close to family or neighbours.

RABAT - More than half of the sexual violence against children in Morocco is committed by "those meant to protect them," Minister of Social Development, the Family and Solidarity Nouzha Skalli said Thursday.

"Forty-two percent (of sexual acts against children) are committed by those close to the family or neighbours, eight percent by the parents and two per cent by teachers," Skalli said.

"These figures have been obtained on a basis of statements and witnesses, even if the reality is different because of taboos," she added.

"The building of centres to take in abandoned children and for battered women is instructive.... The more of these centres there are, the more cases of violence are declared and recorded," she said.

Skalli was speaking after informing parliament Wednesday that "among the 493 cases of mistreatment of children registered in 2009, 94 cases were sexual violence, or 19 percent."

A draft law defining "with great precision all the forms of conjugal violence" will be presented to parliament during the course of 2010, she added.

"Preventive measures are part of the new bill. For instance, a woman who is a victim of violence will be immediately separated from the aggressor, without waiting for the results of police and judicial inquiries," Skalli said.

Moroccan teachers protest rural postings. By Siham Ali 2010-05-17
Many workers in Morocco's public sector claim that being posted in far-flung regions is inflicting severe hardships on their family life.

Thirty Moroccan teachers are continuing a two-month hunger strike to highlight the issue of family reunification and the right of women to work near home.
Many people with public-sector jobs, including those in education and health care, say that living apart from family members while posted to remote locations is a hardship.
Imane Jandire, one of the teachers on strike since March 15th, is among those who must work away from her family. Married for 11 years, she was sent to work 150 kilometres from Ouarzazate, in the south of Morocco, 10 years ago. Her husband is a soldier in Sale, and her eight-year-old son now lives with his grandmother in Beni Mellal.
Jandire believed that the process of family reunification would allow her family to be reunited after she finished four years of service.
"My hopes have evaporated," she told Magharebia in tears. "Today, I can't live under these nightmarish conditions. My husband makes me feel the pressure because he can't stand the separation, and my son hardly knows me because I haven't been with him throughout his life."
Other families are experiencing the same ordeal. Karim Tourani, an employee in Rabat, has been waiting eight years for his wife, a nurse in Beni Mellal, to be posted near home.
"We have two children, ages three and six. I've had to live with my mother so she can help me with their education, because my wife has nobody to watch them while she's working. I've lost hope. Our life has become hell," he said.
According to government spokespeople, employment policies are based on fairness to all employees regardless of their gender.
There is no legislation that clearly outlines the right to family reunification, and the issue can only be addressed under the general procedure for mobility, said Public Sector Modernisation Minister Mohamed Saad Alami.
"The difficulty in managing this issue lies in the fact that the majority of allocation requests come from the regions that suffer from a systematic deficit in human resources," Alami told Parliament on April 23rd.
"Some departments, headed by education and health, adopted several years of transparent and fair procedures, developed with the participation of social partners in order to establish a collective management of staff assignments," he added.
Only Article 64 of the general statute of civil service mentions the issue, Alami said. The article states that allocations must take account of requests by personnel and their family situation.
Lawyer Mehdi Abdesselam warned that allowing civil service employees to reject transfers on the basis of family concerns would cause "many applications to be refused".
One teacher, Ahmed Oualla, said women should not be treated differently while working for the civil service.
"Women walk into public service on the same footing as men," he told Magharebia. "They shouldn't require special treatment, because men also suffer from being away from their families who live in town."
Sociologist Samira Kassimi told Magharebia that this situation may discourage many young women from entering teaching or health professions in order to avoid a remote posting.

Norfolk students head for Morocco. 17/05/2010
School trips conjure up memories of museums, theatres, stately homes - and a little bit of mischief en route on the bus.

But one group of intrepid Norfolk students has ripped up the manual and is preparing for a 10-day trip to sweltering Morocco to make improvements to a village school.

Fourteen students and four members of staff from New Eccles Hall School at Quidenham are ready for a diet of extreme heat, altitude sickness and the warm glow of giving something back to those in need.

From June 27 to July 8 they will be in Imlil, which is two hours' drive from Marrakech among the mountains of the North African country.

They will spend six days in the village school, building a covered play area and refurbishing a classroom to convert it into an indoor sports area. They will then finish they trip with an attempt on the summit of Mt Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa at more than 4,100m.

One of the conditions of being selected for the trip was that each student raised the £1,000 themselves. They also had to go through a formal interview process to get the nod.

A total of £20,000 has now been raised to cover the costs, thanks to a series of fund-raising events - including a plough-a-thon, an auction of promises, barbecues, fetes, a 25-mile walk and a sponsored abseil.

Alex Reed, 15, was part of a group who visited Imlil on a “reconnaissance” trip. He said: “I knew it would be a culture shock, but I love the idea of doing something to help those who are less fortunate than we are.”

The 150-pupil independent school takes youngsters from four-18 and has a curriculum that includes a focus on outdoor activities, including clay pigeon shooting, zip wires, high ropes and orienteering.

But the students who are heading to Morocco admit that their biggest fear is that their lack of fitness will be found out as they tackle Mt Toubkal.

Hannah Stammers, 16, said: “This is a great opportunity for us because children today often get a bad press. I'm nervous about altitude sickness and getting fit, but we are a good team.”

Kieran Smith, 14, said: “It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I've been getting up at 5am each day to go to the gym to prepare for it.”

Joanna McKenzie, 16, said: “I think I will get a good feeling out of this because I've always wanted to help people.”

Washington / Morocco Board News Service -     “The Casablanca Institute”, an action-oriented think tank, with the objective of making permanent the interfaith dialogue that has occurred between leaders in Morocco and the US since 2004, was established the same week that Morocco celebrated its first-ever “Morocco Earth Day”.

“We believe that the founding of The Casablanca Institute is testimony to the good will and friendship that exists between the two nations, and also to the need to create permanent institutions to foster ‘religious engagement’ that will address the twin-Armageddons of climate change and nuclear war,” said Richard Cizik, co-chairman of The Casablanca Institute and President of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good.
 "In a World where many dangers threaten the human species, reaching out to each other and working together among people from different faiths is absolutely vital. The Casablanca Institute, initiated by people of good faith and strong will from the USA and Morocco, is in position to contribute enormously to this outreach," said Institute co-chairman Driss Alaoui-Mdaghri.

Among those officials who spoke at the founding meeting of the Casablanca Institute was Rachel Bronson, Vice-President of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.   Under Ms. Bronson’s leadership the Council recently released a landmark document entitled “Engaging Religious Communities Abroad: A New Imperative for U.S. Foreign Policy.”

Founding board members of the Casablanca Institute include Driss Alaoui-Mdaghri, four-time Cabinet Minister and civil society leader, and co-chair of the Institute with Richard Cizik, who also served over the past two years as a co-chair of the Chicago Council document on religious engagement.  Other board members, include Driss Ouaouicha, President of Al-Akhwayn University; H.E. Nourredine Sefiani, former Moroccan Ambassador to Russia and other nations; and Michael Kirtley, President, The Friendship Caravan, which was responsible for initiating the dialogue between Evangelicals and Muslims back in 2004.

The Casablanca Institute founders believe that leaders of faith and their communities can play a constructive role in building “common ground” in social, political and economic developments.  During the Institute’s first meetings in Casablanca, Morocco the founding board held extensive discussions on the recently released document of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs entitled “Engaging Religious Communities Abroad.”  In the near future the Moroccan leaders of the Institute will report on their reactions to this document.

The document states that “Apart from the activism of [these] religiously inspired peace-builders on the one hand and religious inspired terrorists on the other – each operating at opposite ends of the spectrum of religious violence – there is a vast and complicated ‘middle’ of religious presences in global affairs." To take one positive example, the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good has engaged in a sustained dialogue with Moroccan Muslim leaders on religiously inspired care for the environment that offers ways to engage religious communities in addressing climate change and other environmental challenges.  
The founders of the Casablanca Institute are aware that recent actions by the Kingdom of Morocco to expel some missionaries for proselytizing necessitate ongoing dialogue over differences of opinion on religious freedom.  During their visit to Morocco, Messrs. Cizik and Kirtley held lengthy discussions with top-level officials on this topic.  “We believe that The Casablanca Institute creates a forum for honest reflection about the differences that exist on these matters,” Cizik said.

The Casablanca Institute was created as a non-profit think tank having a legal presence both in Morocco and in the United States. It will be open to people of all faiths, focusing especially on relations between Christians, Muslims, and Jews. It will be seeking support from foundations, institutions, and private individuals, and its scope of activity will later extend to other nations of North Africa and the Middle East. The next joint meeting of American and Moroccan leaders will occur in Fall 2010, with the naming of additional board members and an agreed upon agenda to discuss the threats of terrorism that exist for both nations.

Schneider Electric, Solairedirect Interested in Morocco's Solar Energy Sector
Casablanca - Experts from Schneider Electric and Solairedirect visited Morocco on May 12-15 to enquire about the Kingdom's energy strategy and present their projects to Moroccan decision makers.
    The visit is meant to advance talks on the establishment of a partnership with several Moroccan institutions concerning the projects of Morocco's Solar Plan, which aims to generate a solar-based power capacity of 2GW by 2020, a joint statement of the two multinationals said.     
    The two companies, leaders in solar energy and photovoltaic power, also expressed their commitment to use local industrial capacity and benefit the country of their expertise at all levels (production, operations and maintenance).
    Present in over 100 countries, including Morocco (since 1960), Schneider Electric is a global specialist in energy management, while Solairedirect -established in 2006- is a leading company in the field of solar photovoltaics in France.

Princess Lalla Malika Hails Extension Of MRC Volunteers' Network
Rabat - Princess Lalla Malika, chairwoman of the Moroccan Red Crescent (MRC), lauded the extension of the MRC volunteers' network, which includes over 40,000 people qualified in delivering relief aid and improving risk reduction all over the Kingdom.
    In speech at the World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day and the Red Crescent's national week (8-15 May), Princess Lalla Malika commended the voluntary work carried out by the MRC and its volunteers throughout the north African country.
    The MRC will pursue its efforts to further reinforce this network, which is an efficient instrument to spread human values, the Princess said.
    Princess Lalla Malika underlined that the choice of "the extension of urban zones" as a theme for this event mirrors the concern of public authorities, NGOs and the MRC, as a public utility organization, over this matter.
    The Princess said that the MRC acts as an auxiliary to public authorities and in harmony with the tenets of the Red Cross and Red Crescent international movement to mitigate the impact of urban zones' extension.
    "Our action in this area is inspired by the philosophy and the goals of the National Initiative for Human Development (INDH), launched by HM King Mohammed VI, which focuses on fighting social exclusion at the urban level," the Princess said.
    The MRC adhered to several projects and programs in partnership with the INDH, Princess Lalla Malika said, recalling the setting up of many social centers in poor regions.
    The Princess voiced satisfaction with the Green Morocco Plan which will surely contribute to encouraging the rural population remain in the countryside

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