27 immigrants die in massive border storm in Melilla

by Lorraine Williamson
Melilla border

MADRID – According to sources from the local authorities of the Moroccan province of Nador, bordering the Spanish enclave of Melilla in North Africa, 27 immigrants were killed Friday in the massive attack on the Spanish border trying to enter Europe. 

In a preliminary report from the above authorities on Friday afternoon, five people had lost their lives and a further 76 were injured, 13 of them in serious condition, before the attempted mass entry into Melilla. However, the same sources “categorically deny any deaths among the agents of the Moroccan security forces. 

“Thirteen illegal immigrants who were injured during the attack on the border of the city of Melilla died overnight as a result of their serious injuries,” authorities said in a statement. 

According to the latest report taken over by the Moroccan newspaper Nadorcity, 140 police officers on the Moroccan side were injured in the incident, five of whom were hospitalised in serious condition. 

This information does not match that of the Moroccan Human Rights Association (AMDH) of Nador. The latter assured through her social networks that it would be two gendarmes and six dead migrants. 

On the Spanish side, the mass entry has resulted in at least 49 Civil Guard officers injured and 57 migrants injured, three of whom have been treated at Melilla’s regional hospital. Similarly, four vehicles suffered body damage and broken windows as a result of the stone-throwing, the Melilla government delegation said. 

Violent attack suppressed with great force  

The massive storming of the border between Morocco and Spain’s Melilla has been suppressed with great force by security forces and border guards. More than 1,000 agents from other parts of Morocco have been urgently deployed to the border area, government sources say. That was after authorities were warned that it was a “violent” and “well-organised” group of some 2,000 immigrants headed for the autonomous city. In the end, 133 immigrants managed to reach Spanish territory. 

Armed migrants 

According to police sources, the Moroccan authorities have acted against the hundreds of migrants, unlike earlier this year. Many of them were armed with homemade knives, acid, hammers, and stones. They also had hooks to climb over the fence. The same sources point to a display of violence “not seen in years” 

“Violence on both sides” 

The Moroccan Human Rights Association (AMDH) has denounced “the increasing violence on both sides”. The NGO has asked the migrant community ‘to distance themselves from these violent practices’. 

nederlandse orthopeed

The newspaper ElDiario.es paints the picture of violence by the security forces on the Moroccan side against the migrants. Unpublished images show how Spanish agents immediately return migrants to Morocco. Something that goes against international asylum law and is condemned by human rights organisations, including Amnesty International. According to the same newspaper, there were also attacks by Moroccan gendarmes on migrants who were already on Spanish soil. 

The attempt of 2,000 migrants 

According to the government in Melilla, on Friday morning, 500 of the 2,000 people who tried to approach Melilla managed to climb over the fence. Of those 500, 133 managed to reach the Spanish enclave. “The rest have been stopped by both Moroccan security forces and Spanish border guards.” 

Turn off immediately 

Melilla’s government delegation avoided responding all Friday to a question that immigrants were “rejected at the border”. This is a euphemistic description for placing migrants directly back across the border who have managed to reach Spanish territory. That is illegal under international and European law. 

Images accessed by elDiario.es show that dozens of people were immediately deported to Morocco without any procedure after already being in Spanish territory. At least two of them were beaten and pushed by Moroccan authorities in the area between the two-wire fences built on Spanish soil. 

Internal Affairs Spain: “According to current legislation” 

Finally, Interior Ministry sources confirmed to elDiario.es that the police deployment included direct resets. Although no details were given about the numbers. “There have been rejections at the border under current law.” The ministry also recalled the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights. That condemned Spain in the first place appropriate for any of these immediate eviction cases. Spain was eventually acquitted. 

However, international human rights organisations continue to condemn the practice of returns without a procedure. Among the deported migrants may be people in need of protection and the right to apply for asylum. According to local NGOs, a large proportion of Friday’s migrants came from Sudan. 

Violent approach 

On the Moroccan side of the border, the Moroccan Human Rights Association (AMDH) released numerous videos in Nador. It shows dozens of wounded and very tired sub-Saharan men, surrounded by Moroccan riot police officers. In other images, migrants were beaten by the gendarmes, despite showing no resistance and being in a very weak condition. 

Need a quick inquiry 

The AMDH has called for a “general, prompt and serious investigation to determine responsibilities and deficiencies” before the deceased migrants are buried. Walking Borders warned of the delays in health care for the injured on the Moroccan side. 

“The victims of the Melilla tragedy had to endure hours of brutal stares from those who should have helped them and didn’t,” said Helena Maleno, the network’s founder. Amnesty International has also condemned the practice at the border because it violated international law. 

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