MADRID: Demonstrators held rallies in several Spanish cities and in Rabat to protest over the deaths of 23 African migrants who died in a crush trying to enter the Spanish enclave of Melilla in northern Morocco.
Thousands of protesters gathered in Barcelona, Malaga, Vigo and San Sebastian and in Melilla itself to denounce migration policies and the “militarisation of borders”.
In the Moroccan capital, a few dozen representatives of the Collective of Sub-Saharan Communities in Morocco and associations helping migrants demonstrated in front of parliament calling for Rabat to “stop playing the role of EU policeman”.
“We demand an end to the migration policy funded by the European Union, the opening of an independent investigation and the return of the bodies to the families,” activist Mamadou Diallo said.
“The Europeans colonised us and took everything from us to develop. Today, if we go to them, it means that we have the right to leave,” he said.
Moroccan prosecutors have initiated proceedings against 65 migrants, mostly Sudanese, accused of having taken part in the mass attempt to enter Melilla from Morocco a week ago.
At least 23 migrants died when around 2,000, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, tried to break through the fence into the Spanish enclave, according to Moroccan authorities, while NGOs say at least 37 lost their lives.
The death toll was by far the worst recorded in years of attempts by migrants to cross into Spain’s Ceuta and Melilla enclaves, which have the EU’s only land borders with Africa, making them a magnet for those desperate to escape grinding poverty and hunger.
Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2022