A Moroccan man fishes on a beach in the city of Mohammedia on May 22, 2019. AFP / FADEL SENNA
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Beneath an apartment block that looms over Monica beach in the western coastal city of Mohammedia, a sole sand dune has escaped the clutches of Morocco's insatiable construction contractors. Here, like elsewhere across the North African tourist magnet, sand has been stolen to help feed an industry that is growing at full tilt.A report last month by the U.N. Environment Program on the global over-exploitation of this resource accuses "sand mafias" of destroying Morocco's beaches and over-urbanizing its coastline.More than half the sand consumed each year by Morocco's construction industry -- some 10 million cubic meters -- is extracted illegally, according to UNEP.Beaches are therefore shrinking, resulting in coastal erosion.Theft of sand from beaches or coastal dunes in Morocco is punishable by five years in prison.Environmental activists are pleading against the "head in the sand approach" over the scale of coastal devastation.
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