Illegal deportations to Algeria

The town of Oujda is a town on the border between Morocco and Algeria. There is a huge police station there which the Moroccan police use to keep Migrants before they “deport” them. These deportations are not real deportations and are not legal under international law. Migrants are not sent back to the countries they are actually from or even to the country they entered Morocco from. They are just dumped on the other side of the Algerian border and left there without food, clothes, medical care, or anything. This means that there is a permanent community there of migrants who have just been dumped there, suffering from a humanitarian crisis.

We were told that police round up migrants without papers every Friday in all the cities and areas with high migrant populations in Morocco: e.g. Tangier, Larache, Ceuta, Nador. They do it on Fridays because this is the Muslim holy day, when there are less people around on the streets because they are at home with their families, praying and eating traditional couscous.  This means there are less people around to see the way the police treat the migrants that they find.

If people without papers are found on the street or in house raids on Fridays, they are arrested and detained at local police stations until the police have enough of them to fill up a truck to send them to Oujda. This can sometimes take two days, in which time they are often abused by cops, given little or no food or medical care. The lack of medical care is especially worrying as the arrested migrants often include pregnant women, and people who have been violently attacked by police during arrest.

Migrants and their allies in Morocco try to organise against this by hiding and sounding alarms when they see the police coming. This activity of sounding alarms could be a useful role for European visitors to Morocco to play in solidarity with migrants, as foreigners who seem like they are tourists, especially if they are white, are generally treated with a lot of respect by Moroccan police and so are unlikely to face consequences for doing this, as long as they don’t make it look too obvious.


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