Monday, January 08, 2007

Morocco tries to expel migrants, activists say

Moroccan police have violently rounded up more than 430 sub-Saharan migrants since late December and tried to force them over the Algerian border, rights campaigners and support associations said on Monday.

The migrants, including women who were pregnant or with small children, were grabbed in raids in the capital Rabat, Laayoune in Western Sahara and in the northern town of Nador, the groups said in a joint statement.

Witnesses in Rabat said many were beaten, injured and humiliated and had their belongings confiscated. The migrants were then taken east by bus and abandoned in groups along the Algerian border.

"Threatened with gunshots fired in the air, the exiles were forced by Moroccan police to advance towards Algeria and then pushed back by Algerian forces who also fired into the air," the statement said.

After a stand-off lasting several hours, most of the migrants found their way to a makeshift camp in the town of Oujda where support groups gave them food and healthcare.

Officials at the Moroccan Interior Ministry could not be reached for comment.

The Moroccan government confirmed last month it had rounded up more than 200 migrants in Rabat as part of wider attempts to fight illegal migration and human trafficking networks. It said nine traffickers were arrested.

The European Union has given Morocco 76 million euros to help manage migration, boost border security and crack down on trafficking as the wealthy bloc steps up security on its southern flank.

The result is a growing population of refugees trapped in Morocco, most of them lacking the official documents they need to integrate into society. A few find work but many live by begging on the streets.

Morocco says it is unable to cope and has deported thousands of them. Aid groups last year accused the authorities of dumping hundreds of migrants in the desert without food or water, something the government denied.

"We denounce the attitude and pressure of the European Union aimed at 'sub-contracting' the control of its own frontiers and the consequences both for the migrants and their countries of transit and origin," said the group, which included Moroccan human rights body AMDH and migrant support association AFVIC


Blogger lady macleod said...

This is a very informative blog. Thank you. I shall return.

5:19 PM, May 15, 2007  
Anonymous Racquel said...

I hope the Morocco police who mishandled the illegal immigrants know what possible negative consequences of their acts.

2:18 AM, June 13, 2007  

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