Algeria to take in Syrian refugees stranded at border

2017-06-01 20:56
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Algiers - Algeria has agreed to take in 41 Syrian refugees trapped since mid-April in a desert area that borders neighbouring Morocco, the foreign ministry said on Thursday.

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.

In a statement carried by APS news agency, the foreign ministry said Algeria would take in the refugees as an "exceptional humanitarian gesture".

It said the decision was also meant to mark the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, during which the pious are urged to be charitable and devote themselves to prayer.

The refugees would be housed and fed and if they wish be reunited with family members in a third country, a ministry spokesperson said in the statement carried by APS.

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 Caesarean section, it said.

At the time, Morocco accused its neighbour of expelling the refugees to "sow trouble" and "generate an uncontrollable flow of migrants".

Algeria "categorically" rejected the allegations as false.

It sparked a diplomatic spat, with each country summoning the other's ambassador.

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

Millions of Syrians have been forces to flee their homes since the conflict, which began with anti-government protests, started while more than 320 000 people have been killed.

Read more on:    algeria  |  morocco  |  syria  |  north africa

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