Migrants left stranded between Algeria-Morocco border

Image of Moroccan police [file photo]

Image of Moroccan police [file photo]

Around 30 migrants have been “blocked in the no man’s land” between Morocco and Algeria after being driven back by the authorities of the two countries this week.

Some 34 people, including 12 minors, were arrested between 2-10 March by authorities in the city of Oujda in north-eastern Morocco while trying to reach the Spanish enclaves and taken to the border, the Accompaniment and Defence of Foreigners and Migrants (GADEM) said on Tuesday.

“Violence has accompanied the arrests and escorted them back to the border,” the association said, highlighting the “stick shots on the arms, head or legs.”

Read: Tensions between Algeria and Morocco at Arab League

Migrants were also “subjected to violence by the Algerian security forces while trying to reach the other side of the border,” according to the group speaking to witnesses.

The Moroccan police threw us here without any explanation. We are in a field between the border posts of the two countries. In front of us, there is a trench and then, a few tens of metres, the barracks of the Algerian military

Albert, who is part of the group of migrants, told France24.

The majority of the migrants were from the Cameroon, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali and Senegal, and are now “without water or food”.

“At first we had some cookies we shared. But there is nothing left. To feed us, we pick a plant that grows here and resembles the onion. To drink, we collect water in a kind of pond. I do not even know if it is safe,” Albert explained.

This operation comes as Morocco re-launched in mid-December its new migration policy first launched in 2013 in regulating migrants entering the country from Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Before the head of state decided on a radical change in migration policy, the Moroccan authorities sometimes threw the migrants away, and the Algerians did the same,” sociologist and president of GADEM, Mehdi Alioua, explained while speaking to AFP.

Since the end of February, raids by the authorities have intensified in northern Morocco and regular migrants are sometimes the ones to pay. Facial controls have become frequent, based solely on the colour of the skin.

Fifteen associations, including GADEM released a statement this week calling for “the immediate cessation of violence at the borders as much on the Moroccan side as Algerian” and the readmission of the people rejected from Moroccan territory.

(Source / 17.03.2017)

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