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Marrakech  – “We are keen to turn the Moroccan Sahara into a hub for trade and human interaction between Africa and Europe,” King Mohammed VI said in a message to the participants in the 1st African Congress on maintenance, preservation of road assets and technical innovation, which kicked off on Wednesday in Rabat.“We will also build the Great Atlantic Port in Dakhla and consider a railway line from Tangiers to Lagouira in order to connect Morocco to African sister nations,” he added in this message, which was read out by the King’s Advisor Abdellatif Menouni.The monarch recalled the launching of a series of integrated projects to further link the Kingdom’s North with the South as part of the celebrations to mark the fortieth anniversary of the Green March for the recovery of Morocco’s Southern Provinces, noting that these projects include the planned freeway, which complies with international standards and specifications, and which will link Agadir and Dakhla, via Tiznit and Laayun, all the way to the Mauritanian border in the South. In addition to the quantum leap made in the development and modernization of Morocco’s road network, a strategic plan for the next 20 years has been developed in which great importance is attached to road asset preservation, the King pointed out.“Consistent with our integrated vision, this plan gives special importance to strategic connections with West Africa. The Moroccan southern provinces will thus constitute a bridge between Morocco and its African roots. Moreover, the construction of the Maghreb freeway, to the East, will continue in order to facilitate trade with neighboring countries,” the monarch underlined.He went to add that these ambitious plans, together with major infrastructure and solar and wind energy projects, are not designed only for the development of the region. “Through them, we hope to create closer bonds with African sister nations and contribute to their development as well,” he explained.With MAP read more


“Please note that not all the allegations have been fully verified and many are still in the preliminary assessment phase,” he told journalists at UN Headquarters in New York, adding that these quarterly updates are part of the Secretary-General’s initiative to “increasing transparency” on this issue.Of those 64 allegations, six involved peacekeepers, 33 involved personnel from UN agencies, funds and programmes and another 25 concerned non-UN staff working with organisations implementing UN programmes.Most of the reported incidents – 30 of them – allegedly took place in 2018; another 15 are said to have happened in the years going back to 2015. The date is unknown for 19 of the allegations reported.Out of 77 reported victims, the overwhelming majority are women (42) and girls (24), while two men and one boy also report having suffered from SEA. The age or gender of the remaining eight survivors is unknown.The vast majority of them, 55, suffered from what is categorized as sexual exploitation, defined as “any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another”.Another 16 are considered to have suffered from incidents categorized as sexual abuse, defined as “the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions”.Another four were classified as of an unknown nature, and two were unsubstantiated following an investigation.The alleged perpetrators are 66 men, one woman, and two individuals whose gender is unknown.Of the 39 allegations related to UN personnel, one was not substantiated, 22 are at various stages of investigation, and 16 are under preliminary assessment to determine whether there is sufficient information to investigate.Regarding the 25 allegations relating to non-UN implementing organisation staff, two have been substantiated through an investigation and the perpetrators were dismissed by their employer. One allegation was not substantiated, 14 are at various stages of investigation, seven under preliminary assessment and one allegation was closed at the request of the victim.“The efforts to implement the Secretary-General’s strategy to combat sexual exploitation and abuse continue to be strengthened,” said Spokesperson Dujarric.In September, a Circle of Leadership, embodying world leaders’ commitment to eradicating SEA across the UN system was launched. As of today, 49 heads of State and Government, 22 heads of UN entities and 72 global leaders have joined the movement. In addition, over the past few weeks, an electronic tool called “Clear Check,” developed to screen UN staff dismissed as a result of substantiated SEA allegations, or who resigned or were separated during an investigation, started being rolled out across the entire UN system. read more