Fearing forced expulsion, migrants in Morocco go into hiding

2018-09-06 20:15
Migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa take shelter while hiding from the police, in a forest in the district of Boukhalef, on the southwestern outskirts of the Moroccan port city of Tangiers. (Fadel Senna, AFP)

Migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa take shelter while hiding from the police, in a forest in the district of Boukhalef, on the southwestern outskirts of the Moroccan port city of Tangiers. (Fadel Senna, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

"We hide out like wild animals," said Bamandou Kalli, an 18-year-old Guinean who like dozens of fellow migrants is holed up in Moroccan scrubland in fear of expulsion by the authorities.

On the outskirts of Tangiers, a group of migrants rests under the shade of a tree where they have made a makeshift home after fleeing police raids.

Ibrahim, a 19-year-old from Guinea, said the situation has become increasingly difficult and worrying.

"We don't know what will happen, we cling on to life but it's not easy," he said.

In setting up their new camp, the men have placed carpets and blankets on the parched earth. Food is shared from a cooking pot placed on the ground.

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook

They moved to the outskirts of Tangiers, a port city on Morocco's northern coast, after authorities launched an operation last month targeting people smugglers and the migrants they bring to the country from sub-Saharan Africa.

The campaign came after hundreds of migrants forced their way into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta by storming the heavily fortified border fence.

In the Tangiers neighbourhoods of Boukhalef and Mesnanatan, police then moved in with the backing of special forces and helicopters, rounding up migrants, witnesses said.

While officials would not comment on the operation, witnesses said numerous people were injured as they were forced onto southbound buses which would see the migrants deported.

During one such transfer in early August, two Malians died, one of them a 16-year-old. Moroccan authorities have opened an investigation to determine the circumstances of the "accident".

'A pitiful state'

Walking with a crutch after scrambling over a wall to escape the raid, Wilfried said the operation was "very violent".

"They went into the houses, they took our money and our jewellery, they put us on board (the bus) but they couldn't take me," said the 35-year-old from Cameroon.

Wilfried said he had tried unsuccessfully to cross into Algeria from the Moroccan town of Oujda, despite the border between the two countries being closed.

He now hoped to reach the Spanish mainland, visible across the water from Tangiers.

Jalal, a Moroccan who helped Wilfried, slammed the authorities for using violence during raids in his neighbourhood.

"These Africans suffer a lot, they're in a pitiful state," he said. "I was illegally in Europe and I was never treated in this way."

Driss El Yazami, head of Morocco's state-funded National Human Rights Council, said last week the expulsions are legal and that his organisation makes sure vulnerable people are protected.

Dozens of migrants protested over the weekend outside the prosecutor's office in Tangiers but were blocked by police, multiple source said.

Witnesses of the raids argue that police fail to distinguish between migrants who are in Morocco illegally and those with the necessary paperwork.

In Nador, in the northeast, the Moroccan Association of Human Rights has accused authorities of violence towards women, some of whom were pregnant.

In a Facebook post, the association also said minors were "arrested and pushed back (across the border) even though Moroccan law forbids it".

Laetitia, a 24-year-old Cameroonian, said some of those affected have been traumatised and others have developed mental health problems.

"I thought that Morocco was a country that respected human rights, but seeing how our brothers are mistreated, where are we heading?"

Read more on:    morocco  |  north africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.