23 AFRICAN MIGRANTS DIE IN MOROCCO
By Paul Ndiho
Moroccan authorities have decided to prosecute 65 migrants who joined Friday’s mass attempt to cross into a Spanish enclave by storming a border post.
Video footage circulating on social media sites released by the Moroccan Association of Human Rights organization shows the brutal treatment of Black African migrants with their hands tied behind their backs, pleading for mercy at the hand of the Moroccan authorities. However, The Voice of America has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of this video. Various media outlets are reporting that at least 29 migrants have died, citing unnamed hospital sources.
Moroccan authorities are denying those accusations and say the deaths resulted from a crush, after what they called, a stampede and from migrants falling from a high fence. Scores more were injured, along with dozens of Moroccan security personnel. But this cellphone footage released by the Moroccan Association of Human Rights purportedly shot at the exact locations tells a different story.
A massive attempt by migrants to storm the barrier between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla resulted in the killings of at least 29 sub-Saharan Africans and sparking worse fears.
Many migrants, often from different parts of Africa, have spent months or even years under precarious, dangerous conditions in the nearby forest of Gourougou, braving beatings and arrests in multiple attempts to reach better lives in Spain.
Melilla and Ceuta, Spain’s other tiny North African enclave, have the European Union’s only land borders with Africa, making them a magnet for migrants.
Nearly 2,000 migrants made their way to the border at dawn, and over 500 managed to enter the border control area after cutting a fence with shears, the Spanish government’s local delegation said in a statement.
Images on Spanish media showed exhausted migrants lying on the sidewalk in Melilla, some with bloodied hands and torn clothes.
In March, Spain ended a year-long diplomatic crisis by backing Morocco’s autonomy plan for Western Sahara, returning to its decades-long neutrality stance.
Meanwhile, Hundreds of protesters rallied in Madrid on Sunday to condemn the death of black African migrants by the Moroccan border fence in the aftermath of an attempted mass crossing into Spain.
Demonstrators lay on the ground in a staged performance emulating videos that have emerged in the last two days showing dozens of migrants lying on the ground, some bleeding and many lifeless.