Spain in crisis talks with Morocco over migrant disaster
Monday 10 October 2005
Hundreds got through, but scores were wounded and at least 11 were killed.
Stung by searing images of desperate migrants left in the barren land on the remote Algerian border, Morocco began at the weekend rounding up those it had earlier abandoned, to deport them to their countries of origin.
Rabat initially denied reports by the medical group Médecins sans Frontières that hundreds, including pregnant women, children and injured people, had been taken to remote desert regions without water or food and left to their fate.
But on Saturday, convoys of Moroccan police and military vehicles were transporting the Africans yet again, to Oujda on Morocco's northern border with Algeria, where Senegalese and Malians were to be flown home.
The fate of Africans from other countries, however, remained unclear, amid reports they were to be trucked to the western Sahara and abandoned yet again, to die of hunger and thirst.
Television images yesterday showed Africans brandishing empty water bottles in the desert as they were bundled into dilapidated buses. Many were handcuffed in pairs, their bandaged wounds still fresh from lacerations caused by efforts to storm the razor-wire frontiers of Spain's Moroccan enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. "We have nothing, and no idea where we're being taken," they said.
Amnesty International and other humanitarian groups yesterday denounced the mass expulsions as illegal. Esteban Beltran, Amnesty's director in Spain, said: "No immigrant can be deported unless he has been identified, with a lawyer present, and his case heard. Collective expulsions are contrary to international law and, if carried out with violence and the prospect of death, could be considered a crime against humanity."
Madrid has suspended the mass expulsions until Rabat guarantees they will be treated humanely.
The crisis goes far beyond relations between Spain and Morocco, and is likely to prompt a review of EU immigration policy. At present Europe's poorer southern countries carry the burden of coping with the massive inflows of impoverished Africans.
An EU technical team visited Ceuta yesterday to study a solution to the problem of human avalan-ches crashing through Spain's, that is Europe's, southern frontier. Immigrant holding centres in both cities are acutely overcrowded, with new arrivals housed in field tents, or in the open.
Faced with increased border security, Africans are expected to seek more perilous and expensive routes to Europe, including mafia-run boats to the Canary Islands.
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
- 4 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 5 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...
£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...