Algeria Finally Welcomes Refugees Trapped in Moroccan Desert

Published June 2nd, 2017 - 01:00 GMT
Syrian refugees at the eastern part of the Jordanian border in 2014 (AFP/UNHCR)
Syrian refugees at the eastern part of the Jordanian border in 2014 (AFP/UNHCR)

Algeria has agreed to take in the Syrian refugees trapped since mid-April in a desert area that borders neighboring Morocco, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

In a statement carried by APS news agency, the ministry spokesman, Abdelaziz Benali Cherif, said Algeria would take in the refugees as an “exceptional humanitarian gesture.”

The 41 refugees would be housed and fed and if they wish be reunited with family members in a third country, the spokesman said in the statement.

The decision comes two days after the UN refugee agency said the plight of the refugees — who include a pregnant woman — was “untenable”, urging Algeria and Morocco to work for a solution.

On Tuesday the UNHCR said “prompt” action by Morocco and Algeria was needed to facilitate “the immediate and safe passage of the 41 vulnerable Syrian refugees”.

The group trapped since April 17 included children and women, including at least one who was in need of an urgent Cesarean section, it said.

More than 40,000 refugees from Syrian have settled in Morocco since the start of Syria’s conflict in 2011.

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