Moroccan officials said on Saturday that at least 23 migrants had died and many more were injured after what authorities described as a stampede during a mass attempt to cross the sea into the Melilla region, in the North. Africa of Spain. However, human rights groups accused security forces of indiscriminate use of force at the intersection and called for an investigation into those killed.
A spokesman for the Spanish government office in Melilla said that about 2,000 migrants had reached the area at dawn on Friday. He said that 500 people tried to enter the border control area after cutting through the fence, leading to violent clashes that also injured security officers on both sides of the border.
According to Moroccan authorities, many migrants died after trying to widen the border fence, while 76 others, as well as 140 Moroccan security personnel, were injured. According to Spanish officials in the area, at least 130 people were able to successfully pass through Melilla, where they are being processed for temporary immigration.
In a video of the episode shared by the Moroccan Association for Human Rights and confirmed by geolocation, dozens of bodies and wounded men can be seen piled up along the fence. border, surrounded by Moroccan security officers in riot gear. In another footage, a Moroccan security officer can be seen beating the apparently injured migrants with a baton as they writhe on the floor, before a colleague proceeds to hurl the limp body of one of the migrants. another man on the stake.
Melilla and Ceuta, another part of Spain, have The European Union’s only land border with Africa, making them frequent targets for mass border crossings. Friday’s episode was the first since the borders were reopened in May, two months after the repair of diplomatic relations between Spain and Morocco. That loser obeyed a Madrid decision that was support the North African nation’s autonomy plan for Western Sahara – a former Spanish colony on the northwest coast of Africa.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of Spain condemned the mass border crossing attempt, describing it as an attack on his country’s “territorial integrity” and adding that Spanish security forces had working with their Moroccan counterparts to combat “a well-organized, violent attack.”
At least six human rights organizations in both Morocco and Spain have called for an investigation. Amnesty International expressed “deep concern” about these events and the Spanish Refugee Commission on Saturday criticized what it called “the indiscriminate use of violence to migration and border control”.
Human rights groups in fact also point out that the death toll is likely to rise. The Moroccan Association for Human Rights reported that 27 migrants had died, according to the group’s most recent count, but that number could not be immediately verified.
“This is a disaster,” said Omar Naji, vice president of the human rights association, one of the largest NGOs in Morocco. “In the hours following the clash, no medical help was provided. They were left on the ground for hours,” he said, referring to the migrants, and added his voice to those calling for an investigation.
A spokesman for the United Nations refugee agency told The New York Times that its officials currently have no access to the wounded, who are being treated in Moroccan hospitals. He added that the agency is very concerned about the number of victims.
The agency “calls on the international community, in line with the principle of shared responsibility, to increase access to legal avenues to reduce the risk of such tragic events in the future.”
In March, in the days before Morocco and Spain ended their diplomatic dispute, there were several mass border crossing attempts into Melilla, including one involving 2,500 people – the largest the most ever recorded.
Jose Bautista Reporting contributions from Madrid.