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The brutal reality of EU's externalised border regime

Last week spontaneous protesting rocked the north Moroccan town of Tangier, after the fifth death of a sub-Saharan migrant during a police raid this year. The 30-year-old appeared to have fallen from a window. Hundreds of Tangier's undocumented black African migrants marched the streets - behind his friends carrying his dead body - chanting against police racism. Eventually, the police blocked their path. See a fuller report and video (warning: graphic) from European solidarity activists on the ground here: http://beatingborders.wordpress.com/.

'Irregular' migrants in Tangier say violence experienced from the Moroccan police is increasing, despite Morocco's new 'Migration and Asylum Policy', which makes the fashionable nods towards human rights. They've also strengthened their 'mobility partnership' with the EU. Mobility partnerships mean anything but for migrants deemed 'undesirable', and as the EU seeks to externalise is border regime into neighbouring countries. They're starting one in Tunisia next.

While a few sugar pills are offered in the form of more temporary visas for Moroccan nationals, the partnership also forces Morocco to take a tough stance against illegal immigration, effectively becoming the EU's gendarme – and for the EU, outsourcing migration policing to countries willing to beat, kill and harass on their behalf.

More brutal still is the situation in the regions near the border fences between Moroccan land and the Spanish enclaves of Cueta and Melilla. In 2005, Moroccan security guards opened fire on unarmed men and women trying to cross the high, barbed wire fences that seperate the territories, killing 11 and injuring dozens more. Recent reports state the level of violence in the region, where many sub-Saharans live in temporary camps, has reached a crisis point and has surpassed that that led up to the 2005 tragedy.


SchNEWS was in Morocco last month and spoke to a Gambian migrant about what goes on in Nador, the nearest Moroccan town to the Melilla border.


Can you tell me about Nador/Mellila?

I went in 2010, 2012, 2013. Nador is a place... A lot of crazy things happen there. People live in the mountains, the jungle land, in the big forest. Some people lost their lives... the living conditions. Police came there every day at six in the morning, five in the morning and it's mountain so a man can be running and just fall down.

(Clarification: The terrain in Melilla is mountainous, with vertical drops along the hillsides, rugged ground and trees blocking your way. People fall down the drops and can fall a long way, landing on rocks. Lots of injuries falling on rocks.)

Were people dying there because of the living standards in the camp, or was it because of what the police did?

Because of what the police did. Because it's the police who chase them away. They try to save themselves, to run away from the police. And the accidents happen. Some of them have been beat by the Guardias, the Moroccan Guardias, trying to strike and jump the fence. Being tortured, beaten, anyhow they beat them. And they torture you, they over-beat you and you get internal bleeding. That internal bleeding will kill you, you know.

Was there anywhere you could go when you were injured in Nador?

Sometimes they take you to the hospital. Sometimes they just take you to the mountain. They just dump you somewhere where if people come down looking for food they are able to see you.

Is it common that people are able to cross over the fence?

It's not common. Sometimes. From time to time. Sometimes if people are many in the forest, they force to cross because in this situation it's not good in the forest. The living condition is getting worse and worse. A lot of disturbance like police coming every day, so people just decide just to (try).

So when the police come what do they do?

When the police come they try to catch people are to burn their plastic houses, the ones they build in the forest. They burn them, and take people, and burn all your blankets.

Do people often get deported from Nador to Oujda?

Yes, they will be deported to Oujda. And you have to strike back again to come back to Nador. It's a hard life, a hard life there. It's a risk, being there everyday you can die, you can survive. Being there, in Nador. Because any day police can come and you try and escape and you fall down and die. So being there is a risk. And any day you can go to jump the fence you could get murdered, you know. It's a big risk.

What other risks are there, I heard about gangs?

The local gangs.


Moroccans. They rob people. Because they know that we are not free, you know? From the authorities, so they can do anything, we will never go and report. That's why they take advantage of us.

So it's a place where there is no-one to stop them doing that?

No there is no-one to stop them. There is nowhere you can complain. Even for the police to get that information it's going to be difficult sometimes. Because we are the people supposed to complain and we can't complain.

Stories about similar subjects...

As tensions escalate between migrants and the authorities in Calais, the right-wing mayor Natasha Bouchart has made some surprising announcements: demanding a new reception centre for 400 vulnerable people and a day centre for migrants from central government. What's that all about?

Mass squatting action in metal recycling plant pulled off in style, after brutal policing leaves hundreds of undocumented people without shelter.

Immigration rights activists descend on Harmondsworth and Colnbrook detention centres to bring a message of solidarity and resistance.

Mass evictions of migrants in progress now

We started writing about three interesting but unrelated things happening in June. Here is an amalgamated version, which is worth a read.

Spanish Guardia Civil use extreme violence against migrants trying to enter the EU as repressive measures against potential migrants take root in Morocco. First hand account...

Many undocumented people have spent a harsh winter on the streets in Calais after squat clampdown.

Fascist demonstration planned tomorrow near Calais, fash presence increasing. People needed to defend new squat

Twitter: @SchNEWS