Why are Africans in Morocco Praying to Reach Europe?

Sub-Saharans in Tangier pray to be ‘lucky ones’ who reach Spain

The popular Morocco-Spain route comes with danger, as authorities carry out raids and the navy fires on migrant boats.

Migrants and refugees often ask Father Martinez of the Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral for assistance and prayers [Joe Wallen/Al Jazeera]
Migrants and refugees often ask Father Martinez of the Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral for assistance and prayers [Joe Wallen/Al Jazeera]

Tangier, Morocco – Nestled in Tangier’s backstreets, Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral rises above the fracas of heated market trading as Archbishop Santiago Agrelo Martinez leads an impassioned service.

Most of his congregation are sub-Saharan Africans planning to reach Europe.

As the service ends, Martinez is surrounded by worshippers pleading for assistance with medical bills or employment.

Others simply ask for a prayer for friends who recently attempted the crossing to Spain but have since disappeared.

“Our desire is that emigrants have a family unit through the church to which they can always go, as if it was their own home,” Martinez tells Al Jazeera.

“The most difficult thing is to see them humiliated every day, begging in the street, suffering in fear and not knowing when that hell will end,” he says. “I cannot help feeling their situation as mine.

“In this house, we somehow take care of everything for them: food, clothing, body hygiene, physical and mental health, housing, the schooling of children, the development of personal skills and assisting them with getting jobs in small companies in Tangier.”

For the first time since the refugee crisis began in 2015, the Morocco to Spain route has become the most popular path for asylum seekers attempting to reach Europe’s shores.T

Up until September 10 this year, a total of 34,994 people made the perilous journey, dwarfing numbers for the Libya-Italy and Turkey-Greece routes with 20,210 and 20,827 respectively. This figure is also already treble that of 2017.

According to some reports, Moroccan authorities believe 50,000 migrants are currently based in Tangier and its surrounding area.

The Morocco route is not without its own specific danger.

Earlier this month, Amnesty International blasted Moroccan authorities for a “shocking” crackdown on sub-Saharans.

Since the end of July, the Moroccan police together with the Royal Gendarmerie and the Auxiliary Forces carried out major raids on the neighbourhoods where refugees and migrants live in several cities, with particular intensity in the northern provinces of Tangier, Nador and Tetuan, which neighbour the Spanish borders, said the rights group.

“This shocking crackdown on migrants and refugees in Morocco is both cruel and unlawful. It represents a worrying backslide for a government that in 2013 introduced new asylum and migration policy commitments to bring Morocco into compliance with international standards,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.

An estimated 5,000 people were swept up in the raids since July, piled on to buses and abandoned in remote areas close to the Algerian border or in the south of the country, according to the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH). The group monitored the number of buses that left from Tangier, Tetuan and Nador and calculated an estimate for the number of people seized.

New arrivals sleep rough on Tangier boulevard [Joe Wallen/Al Jazeera]

And those who end up attempting the journey to Spain are also put at risk at sea.

On Tuesday, a Moroccan woman was killed and three other people were left wounded – one critically – after the country’s navy opened fire at a speedboat carrying migrants.

The Moroccan interior ministry said in a statement that a naval unit operating in the Mediterranean was “forced” to fire on the boat because its Spanish driver “refused to obey” orders.

On Wednesday, Alarmphone, a network of activist and migrant groups providing a 24-hour hotline for refugees in distress at sea, said it had assisted eight boats in distress coming from Morocco, one of which was returned to the north African country.

The majority of Martinez’s congregation live in the adjacent kasbah area of the city.

Alhassane Keita, 42, has called it home since he fled Mali in early 2013 when fighters advanced to within 20km of his city Mopti.

“If I stay in Mali there is no work, no future and no security,” Keita tells Al Jazeera.

“I want to go to Europe to work, I’m happy to do all the jobs that Europeans don’t want to do; I just want to be safe.”

Alhassane Keita says he does not have a future in Mali and is willing to do low-paid work in Europe as long as he is safe [Joe Wallen/Al Jazeera]

Asylum seekers take advantage of lax housing regulations in the kasbah, living cheaply, crammed into decrepit homes.

There are so many sub-Saharan refugees and migrants in the area that Moroccans have begun referring to it as “Petit Dakar”.

Another kasbah resident, 16-year-old Mohammed Jallo, fled Sierra Leone when he was just 13. His parents were murdered in a revenge killing linked to the country’s bloody civil war.

He had worked for three years on a Chinese-run construction site in rural Algeria before coming to Tangier.
“I came through the desert to get to Algeria,” he recalled.

“The journey is not easy and many people die – I saw people die with my own eyes.

“Sometimes we walked for 90 or 100 hours at a time with only a couple of hours break each night.

“The traffickers will just leave you in the desert if you cannot keep walking, with no food and water.

“Libya is too dangerous these days. It is at war so we are coming to Morocco instead.”

Mohammed Jallo, 16, fled Sierra Leone seeking safety at the age of 13 after his parents were killed [Joe Wallen/Al Jazeera]

An Al Jazeera report in January 2018 documented that migrants and refugees were still being sold as slaves in open markets in Libya, despite international condemnation.

Others continued to be held against their will by armed groups until their families paid ransom money.

Further migrants had avoided entering Libya after hearing news reports that NGOs were stopping rescue operations off its coast due to security fears, and as the Libyan coastguard was allegedly leaving asylum seekers to die at sea.

Italy’s recent decision to refuse entry for both rescue boats and merchant ships carrying refugees and migrants leaving Libya also had an effect.

Ahmed, not his real name, is a Tangier local and smuggler and agreed to speak to Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity.

He said that he sends over two small boats a week each carrying 62 people and charges between $900 and $1,150 per person meaning that he can earn up to $500,000 a month.

Migrants and refugees often meet in the newly set up cafes, such as this one for Senegalese arrivals in Tangier’s old town [Joe Wallen/Al Jazeera]

Using sub-Saharan middlemen, he seeks out refugees and migrants who meet in the recently established Senegalese or Eritrean community cafes.

Once a fee is agreed, the asylum seekers are transported to forests near remote beaches from where they set sail in the middle of the night.

When asked whether he is concerned about the Moroccan police, he laughed and explained that he pays off certain officers to ensure safe passage for his boats.

In 2015, Morocco introduced year-long renewable residency permits, allowing migrants to move to Morocco and work legally while saving up to travel to Europe.

In addition, after the 33 years of exclusion from the African Union ended, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI introduced 90-day visa-free travel on arrival to many sub-Saharan nationals.

For Malick Diallo, 20, these policies enabled him to fly directly to the country from Senegal and save up the money needed to attempt several crossings by working as a labourer in Tangier.

Back at Our Lady Cathedral, as news filters through that 400 asylum seekers, attempting to reach Spain from Morocco, have had to be rescued in just one weekend, a young Liberian man, Daniel, implores Santiago Agrelo Martinez to pray with him.

“The Almighty has told me it is time to make the journey to Europe,” he says.

“Pray with me that I am one of the lucky ones.”




Fully Employed and Homeless

Image result for homeless in sacramento courthouse

Photo\Sacramento Bee

No they’re not colorful mirage’s lining the streets of Sacramento.  Camping tents are nightly homes for some of the thousands of homeless individuals in Sacramento. The fortunate have tents and sleeping bags the majority sleep on the city streets without shelter sleeping directly in elements

Many of the homeless are fully employed . Living in cars, other in tents.  Trying to save enough to move into an apartment.   Some have been displaced by rising rents. There are jobs in Sacramento, most paying less than $16.00 an hour.   To afford an apartment in the city, you need to earn nearly $32.00 an hour.

I recently met a family living inside a shell of a relatively new truck at a downtown park.   In July, this family of four received a notice that their rent would increase by $600 on a home they have lived in four years.   Three members of the family are  fully employed, the youngest is in middle school. Every morning they drive him to school every morning.

The family meals are prepared in local parks.  At night they sleep in the bed of the truck and shower at a near by truck stop.  The family is relocating to Woodland next month ,downsizing to a two bed room apartment.  The relocation mean two members of the household  will have to find new jobs.

In much of the state renters are more than concerned as rents are increasing at high rate, displacing thousands of Californians. While there is some resistance in government to implement rent control. it’s difficult to justify rent increases of 30% or more with out capitol improvements or tax increases it is simply a form of gouging

This form of gouging will add  to homeless population and have a negative effect of the cities funds . In 2015, the city said it spends more than $13.6 million annually to address homeless.  The homeless population has increased by 31% in the last two years.

According to the 2015 Point-in-Time Homeless Count for Sacramento County, on any given night,approximately 2,650 people throughout Sacramento County experience homelessness. Over the course of a year, it is estimated that over 5,000 people will be homeless for one or more nights in Sacramento. While the majority of these people are sheltered, just over one third (predominantly single adults) are unsheltered, typically sleeping in their vehicles, an encampment, or another outdoor location.

????? If your rent increased  by 40% or more. Could you absorb the cost or would you relocate?



Incomes Are Up and Poverty Is Down, but Guess Which Americans Have Gained the Most

“We’ve got a long way to go to get the people at the bottom to where they were.”

By: Edwin Rios/Mother Jones

Poverty was down in the United States last year and so was the number of Americans without health insurance. Our median household incomes had their best one-year increase ever, topping $56,500—the highest level since 2007, just before the Great Recession.

New figures released this week by the US Census Bureau show that many Americans are finally reaping the benefits of the nation’s economic recovery. The changes accompany a year of job growth—unemployment dropped from 6.2 percent in 2014 to 5.3 percent in 2015—and modest raises to minimum wages in 21 states and DC, notes Sheldon Danziger, president of the Russell Sage Foundation. Danzinger says he also anticipates a “modest gain” in growth for 2016. “The good news is the economy is moving in the right direction. We’ve recovered almost all the ground lost during the Great Recession,” he says. “The bad news, of course: We’ve got a long way to go to get people at the bottom and in the middle to where they were at the turn of the century.”

Here are some highlights from the new Census data:

Raises for most: Americans across the board benefited from increases in household income from 2014 to 2015, regardless of their race, gender, age, or legal status. Hispanic families saw the largest gains (6.1 percent) in median household income, followed by white families (4.4 percent) and black families (4.1 percent). Still, those incomes remained below their pre-recession highs.

U.S. Census Bureau

The gender pay gap decreased, if barely: In 2015, women earned 80 cents for each dollar earned by men, up a penny from the year before. A woman working full-time in 2015 earned $40,742, a 3 percent bump from 2014, but still $10,000 less than what the median man made.

Black and Hispanic women fared better compared with men of the same race. Among Hispanics, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, women made 87 cents to a man’s dollar. Black women earned 88 cents. But when compared with white men, Hispanic women made 54 cents per dollar, while black women earned 63 cents.

The poor and the middle class gained—but the rich gained more: While median household incomes rose at a higher rate for poor and middle-class families, the rich reaped far more in absolute terms. For example, a 5.2 percent income gain netted middle-class families an extra $2,798, while the 3.7 percent gain by the top 5 percent brought those households an additional $7,656 each. What’s more, the household earnings of those rich families were up 6 percent over their pre-recession earnings in 2007, whereas the earnings of the bottom 60 percent of households remain lower today than they were in 2007. (Scroll over the chart below to see the dollar amounts.)

Meanwhile, the number of people living in poverty dropped by 3.5 million, falling from a bit under 15 percent in 2014 to 13.5 percent in 2015, the largest dip since 1967. More than 8 million families were in poverty last year, down from 9.5 million in 2014. And the number of children under 18 dropped by 1 million. For the first time, the Census Bureau also calculated poverty rates based on people’s actual take-home income—taking into account tax credits and government subsidies such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. (The poverty rate is normally calculated based on pre-tax income only.) And while more than 2 million additional Americans were impoverished based on the alternate calculation, 3 million children fell out of poverty.

U.S. Census Bureau

City dwellers got an economic boost, but rural America remained stagnant:Twenty-three states saw declines in their poverty rates. Mississippi maintained the nation’s most impoverished state, with 22 percent living in poverty, while New Hampshire saw the lowest rate—8 percent.

Much of the economic growth was confined to cities, however. Household incomes in cities within metropolitan areas grew 7.3 percent and poverty rates dropped. Rural dwellers—those outside the Census’ metropolitan areas—saw a 2 percent decline in median household income, and about the same rate of poverty as city dwellers.

Venezuelans now stealing food from school cafeterias as scarcity spreads

ninita venezuela.jpg

By:Franz von Bergen/Fox News Latino

With the food shortage seriously escalating over the last few months in Venezuela, criminals have thought out a new place to steal from: public schools.

In the past two months, the National Federation of Parents (Fenasopadres) received more than 25 reports of break-ins in schools around the country in which thieves took non-perishable food items from the pantries.

The thieves come after dark and the robbery is usually discovered the next morning, which means no food for hundreds of kids that day – or perhaps that week.

“Most schools don’t have any kind of surveillance despite the many requests we have made to the authorities,” Alexander Ramírez, a representative of Fenasopadres, told Fox News Latino.

With the food scarcity index currently at 82 percent, according to local polling firm Datanalisis, groceries and anything edible have become a precious commodity.

“They steal anything that is available, from wheat for the arepas to butter, milk and vegetables,” Ramírez told FNL.

Most of these products’ prices are government-regulated, which is why they become scarce — it creates a black market where groceries are sold at a higher price, translating into a lucrative business for those people call “bachaqueros.”

“We think they take some food for personal use, but most of it is sold at a higher price,” Ramírez said.

This situation is particularly critical for some children whose nutrition depends almost entirely on the food that they receive at school, given the severity of the economic crisis at home.

In a recent survey, among 2,581 sixth-grade students and 148 teachers from the state of Miranda, which includes part of Caracas, 69 percent said that they are eating less because there is no food in their homes.

According to the survey, conducted last week by Miranda state, 21 percent of the kids said they usually eat at school; 27 percent of the children revealed that school meals had been their sole food source at least one day in the previous week.

As many as 86 percent of the sixth-graders surveyed said they are worried about the possibility of running out of food in their homes.

“The situation is really dramatic. Teachers said that some students have fainted in the middle of a class because of how poorly fed they are,” Ramírez told FNL.

In the Miranda poll, 66.9 percent of the teachers admitted that they believe their students’ health is worse because of the reduced amount of food they are getting.

The survey also showed that children are not receiving the basic diet recommended for their age bracket.

More than 65 percent of those surveyed said that in the previous week they hadn’t had access to milk, cereals, ham or meat. Most of them had been fed rice or arepas, a local dish made of ground maize dough or cooked flour.

“The food served at schools was better in the past. Students used to receive milk every day with their breakfast. Now sometimes they only get a cracker,” Ramírez said.

Despite schools being a somewhat reliable food provider, the widespread scarcity is affecting attendance as well.

The survey showed that 55 percent of the children said they had missed school at least once to stand in a food line with their parents, while 58 percent of the teachers admitted that they had taken days off to shop for groceries.

This year’s school attendance in Miranda has been the lowest since 2011.

11 Day 3300 Mile Super Road Trip (Day 10) Expressway To Vegas Baby!

I got an early start from Albuquerque.  Vegas was nine hours away. Interstate 40 was gonna get me home.  West bound 40 was beautiful, with an continuous changing landscape, from flat mountains , Red Desert and Mesas to mountains filled with tall green trees.a very entertaining drive.

One thing I have learned to appreciate  is the Truck Stop. You gotta love a well equipped Truck Stop. With restaurants and stores in these mega complexes.  The stores has clothes ( in my size and larger) appliances, DVDs Laptops, Restaurant and many have showers  (if your feelin dingy).  Private places where one can rinse the road off.

I think I overheard someone in a growly voice say ” I can do your back if you wanna?”. I’m good thanks. Did you see the game last night? Exit, stage right .

When you think or Arizona, you think of deserts.  Flagstaff, Arizona elevation 6900 feet was a wonderful surprise and a distraction.  Its surrounded by trees, the air is fresh, the city has history and its the home of Northern Arizona University.

The students bring energy and there were quite a few tourist.  “What a distraction” I considered spending the night, but I had to focus.  Vegas offered slots and cheap room and eats.

Three hours and a good slice of Italian Pizza made by an Irish woman its time for road.

Another late night arrival, the the mountainous highway curved its way toward Las Vegas.

As I entered Nevada, the price of fuel increased again. 20 cents a gallon, so like a lot of people I made a u-turn and returned back to Arizona and filled up there.

My Garmin took me across Hoover Dam and as I entered Las Vegas, I remembered one important thing, I don’t like Vegas.    There is something magical about the name, but once I’m there its like ok.

The building are impressive, there is a lot of energy.  But what if you don’t like the mega casinos, with out of control adults?  What are your options?  I have had good times with friend in the city and I like Downtown, where locals are found.   Where are the unique walkable neighborhoods?  Where are the attractions beyond the strip and downtown.

Reno offers a many quiet places, so does New York City.  Its not just Times Square.

Its midnight and once again I’m without a place to lay my head.


The weekday room prices are very very low.  As low as $15*  However, fees can easily increase that rate to *45.   Henderson was a better better bet it was in the wrong direction.

I chose Circus Circus, the check in line was long. I’m fourth from the front and reached for my wallet, which wasn’t in my back pocket. it  wasn’t in my front pockets.  SHIT its on the front seat of my open car.  Praise Wendy’s , it was there.  Back in line.

Carrie, the lady who checked me in, gave me a red carnation and upgraded my room as a post birthday gift. Its been a good trip.  The room was very nice and impressive, my view was Las Vegas Blvd.   After midnight, room service wasn’t an option and most of the restaurant where closed.  Dinner was Subway.



Cheap Gas Killing Louisiana

TOUGH TIMES: Douglas Randall, an oilfield truck driver, stands near his semi-truck parked at a gas station in Houma, La., awaiting his next job. He is paid per load and works for oil companies, but he says work has dropped off by half due to the low price of oil and a reduction in drilling

Associated Press

HOUMA, La. — It might sound strange, but the penny-pinching folks in Louisiana’s Oil Patch can’t wait for the price of gasoline to go back up.

Cheap gas at the pump — though a welcome cash infusion for millions of American households — is a way of saying “recession” in south Louisiana, where oil wells are as common as shrimp nets and alligators.

Since 2014, Louisiana has lost about 12,000 oil and gas jobs as prices have declined, according to the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

Nationwide, about 100,000 jobs related to the oil and gas industry have been lost since January of 2015, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

Many are left wondering when prices will rise again.

“Yesterday, I paid $1.87 for gas,” Patti Lafont said, shaking her head while waiting on tables at a restaurant in Houma, deep in the Oil Patch. “I would rather pay any day $3.87 per gallon 
because, over here, that’s what we live on: fishing and the oilfield.”

Houma is a city of 34,000 people in the steamy Cajun swamps southwest of New Orleans. It’s transformed itself from the sleepy farming and fishing town it was in the ’50s into a bustling hub serving the needs of oil 
drillers in the field, whether extracting oil on land or far out in the Gulf of Mexico.

Now — as is happening in other oil-dependent states such as Texas, Wyoming, North Dakota and Alaska — Louisiana is being clobbered by an unexpected worldwide oversupply of crude oil — a glut that has wreaked havoc on those economies.

Among factors making oil so cheap: a slowing Chinese economy, Saudi Arabia’s 
decision to not reduce oil production and, more recently, the lifting of the embargo on Iran’s oil. Adding to the over-supply are advances in drilling techniques such as hydraulic fracturing. And then there’s the growth in wind, solar and natural gas.

A barrel of Brent crude oil closed at $43.10 Friday. So far, cheap gas is considered to be helping the U.S. economy more than it’s hurting.

Not here, though.

Oil-producing Louisiana, where drilling jobs are vital, has been crippled as it no longer makes sense to drill.

Douglas Randall — a fisherman-turned-oilfield truck driver — stood beside his long-idle semi-truck at a gas station awaiting his next job. He’s paid per load and works for oil companies.

“Slow. That’s the only way to describe it,” said Randall, 60. “It’s off by half at least, or more. How am I making it? Barely.”

Greek women forced into prostitution for ‘the cost of a sandwich’ because of country’s debt crisis

Sex workers
Desperate: Women in Greece are being forced into the sex trade for as little as $2

By: Richard Wheatstone/UK Mirror

Women in Greece are being forced to sell their bodies for sex for as little as the cost of a sandwich because of the country’s crippling dept crisis.

A new report reveals how more women are working as prostitutes and many are selling sex for as little as 2 dollars.

Report author Gregory Lazos of Panteion University in Athens said there are now around 18,500 sex workers in Greece.

He added the going rate for sex has tumbled from $53(US) before the country’s financial crisis.

Professor Lazos told The Times: “Some women just do it for a cheese pie, or a sandwich they need to eat because they are hungry.

Hungry: A report says some women are having sex in exchange for food (stock picture)

“These cases — about 400 — may be nominal compared with the thousands of other sex workers operating nationwide, but they never existed as a trend until the financial crisis.

“Factor in the growing number of girls who drift in and out of the trade, depending on their needs, and the total number of female prostitutes is startling.”

The Greek academic’s findings suggest that Greek women now dominate 80 per cent of the sex trade industry, where the majority of prostitutes used to original from eastern Europe.

Only ten of the country’s estimated 525 brothels are thought to be operating with a legal license.