This article is a translation from a French language Moroccan news site. See the original here: http://www.aufaitmaroc.com/actualites/maroc/2013/5/4/soixante-six-migrants-secourus-au-large-de-lespagne-et-du-maroc_211433.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter#.UYlbA7Xvsbs
Comments in square brackets [ ] are from us at No Borders Morocco. This article is clearly not written from a very sympathetic perspective, but nonetheless gives a good update of the situation over the past few months.
“A total of 66 illegal immigrants aboard makeshift boats, from sub-Saharan Africa, were rescued Saturday in the Strait of Gibraltar, nine of them by the Spanish Relief and 57 Moroccan side, said a spokesman for Spanish maritime rescue.
“Nine men were rescued and Tranportes port of Tarifa and 57 people, including three women on the Moroccan side” of the Strait of Gibraltar, said the spokesman from Maritime Rescue Tarifa (southern Spain).
Many illegal immigrants [sic – at Beating Borders we prefer the term “human beings”] from sub-Saharan Africa are almost daily trying to reach Spain from Morocco by sea, through the Strait of Gibraltar, or overland across the border with Ceuta and Melilla, in northern Morocco.
These attempts to reach Europe have recently given rise to incidents between migrants and the police, as in April 26 when 70 illegal immigrants were able to cross the mesh barrier separating Morocco from the Spanish enclave of Melilla.
On April 21, six Spanish police officers were injured, suffering bruises and scratches, wanting to prevent a dozen sub-Saharan African migrants, armed with sticks and knives according to the police, from entering Melilla by sea from Morocco. [We must point out here that Spanish police are armed with guns carrying live ammunition, and migrants regularly receive much worse injuries than “bruises and scratches”]
On March 11, fifty migrants from sub-Saharan Africa had managed to cross the fence in Melilla. 25 people were injured, including a 30 year old Cameroonian, who died of his wounds on March 18 at a hospital in Morocco, according to the Moroccan Association for Human Rights [http://www.amdh.org.ma/En]
After a lull in the late 2000s, attempts to cross the border, the nearest way to enter Europe for the many sub-Saharan immigrants in Morocco, had increased during summer 2012.
Mali has been plagued by armed conflict since a March 22, 2012 coup that toppled the regime of President Amadou Toumani Toure and precipitated the north of the country falling into the hands of armed groups associated with Al-Qaeda Islamists, a Franco-African intervention launched in January has partly driven the main cities of the region. [This is obviously mentioned as an explanation for why attempts to cross the border have increased, but the truth is that most West African countries are facing severe problems right now, not just Mali. French troops have also entered Niger to protect Uranium deposits. Land-grabbing capitalists are forcing poor rural people all over the region to abandon their lands. Almost all countries in West Africa are still suffering the effects of dictatorships and the wars in the 1990s and 2000’s. The region was already one of the poorest in the world before the current global crisis, and they are suffering as a result.]