Report from Morocco – February 2018

THE SITUATION IN THE DIFFERENT CITIES IN MOROCCO

Tanger

There are constantly new people arriving to try crossing the Strait of Gibraltar. For the past years the majority of the travellers lived in the neighbourhood Boukhalef, but since the massive wave of repression in 2015 many of them moved to other parts of the city. Recently  many people have settled in the neighbourhood Branes, in the hills above Misnana

Nador / Melilla

The frequent raids in the forests around Nador continue. Normally women and children are not deported as often as men, however, it does happen. So far, the authorities  in Nador almost never issue residence permits to Sub Saharan migrants in Nador. Being a migrant, strolling around Nador remains dangerous, regardles of whether you have papers or not.

Ceuta

On the 3rd of February the “March of Dignity” took place in Ceuta. Every year, Spanish collectives gather to denounce the impunity of the Guardia Civil, who killed at least 15 people who were trying to swim across the border at Tarajal, by shooting rubber bullets at them and firing teargas.

From the noborder perspective it seems very important to bring forward the voices of people in the camps on the other side, in Morocco, through videos. Last year (2017) messages from the solidarity march were recorded and later screened in Morocco. This time we proposed to a group of migrants in a camp on the Moroccan side of the fence to make a video manifesto that could be shown during the march in Ceuta.

The manifesto, created thanks to their contributions, focuses on three points: the reason why migrants leave their countries, mainly because of what they call “faimicratie” (rule based on hunger), a class system based on immobility. In this context it makes sense to talk about a double barrier: firstly, people face their social class in their home country,  secondly, they face the borders in order to get to Europe. The second point made regards life in Morocco, the racist system, the total discrimination, leaving the migrants with no opportunity to organise themselves, apart from on the margins of society. That is why they do not want to stay “we are here to cross”. Finally, they denounce the inhumane violence in the border zones, where people are killed, injured, and where it is impossible to make complaints. There are just a few filmed witnesses proving the violence at the Moroccan side of the border. In Europe, this violence remains unpunished, whilst in Morocco it is not even possibility to denounce it. “We fought to get here, we are here to cross”. The racism black people face in Morocco and the European borders are opposed by resistance; self-organised and pacifistic, with one goal: crossing the border.

The manifesto which was received in Ceuta by collectives working in Spain, shows that the struggle against the borders needs to be coordinated between the two sides of the fence.

Video-manifesto “3 February 2018”

Fez

The state is still threatening to evict the camp at the train station at Fez. There is the “proposal” that if people will leave voluntary, they could get a room to stay for three months. As far as we know people will not accept this proposal, as it does not provide a long term solution. Therefore, they prefer staying next to the station, even though a part of the camp is already destroyed.

Casablanca

As there are frequent deportations from Nador to Casablanca (and the town Safi further towards the south), people are now living in camps around the train station in Casablanca. The same thing happens in the other bigger cities in Morocco, migrants live in precarious situations next to the stations, because they do not always have the means to return directly to the border after having been deported.

Laayoune / Tiznit

For the moment there a not a lot of people trying to cross to the Canary Islands from Laayoune. However, there are still people in Dakhla and Tan-Tan

TRAVELS, BOZA AND DEATHS

On the 4th of February one of the biggest tragedies occurred close to Melilla, when a convoy carrying 47 travellers capsized. So far only 21 bodies have been found, most of them have not yet been identified, and are still in the morgue in Nador. One journalist tried to gather the names and identities of the victims in order not to let them stay anonymous, as abstract numbers amongst the numerous tragedies that we are confronted with every day. https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-03-01/forty-seven-people-died-crossing-mediterranean-wooden-boat-earlier-month-their

According to numbers from IOM, 420 people have already died in the Mediterranean this year, out of them 102 (or 104 according to the NGO Andalucia Acoge) have died between Morocco and Spain.

Due to maritime border controls in the Strait, the departures are happening more and more often towards the Atlantic coast. Therefore, the boats start their journey in the Atlantic Ocean, heading north parallel with the Moroccan coast. This extension of the journey of course adds extra dangers.

Despite this, travellers still manage to make BOZA, every week there are several convoys entering Europe, often big convoys with more than 20 people. According to official numbers more than 3000 migrants have already entered Spain in the past two months. Welcome to Europe to all the newly arrived in February!

Finally, there are also many Moroccan travellers who try their chance. However, once they arrive in Spain, they are sometimes sent directly back to Morocco; an outright illegal practice. The so-called “devoluciones in caliente” meaning “hot returns” are not only taking place between Ceuta / Castillejos and Melilla / Nador, but also between Tangier and Tarifa. In Morocco, mainly the young people are faced with several difficulties, especially in the border zones; unemployment, lack of prospects, political repression. Since 2017 there has been a visible increase in social movements against the Moroccan political system, for example in the Rif region. In February the town Jerada (close to Oujda) rebelled against the disastrous situation.  The minors, who are severely exploited, organised demonstrations and expressed their demands to the governments. Our solidarity is with them, and with everyone struggling for freedom!

MOROCCAN POLITICS

Repression against Helena Maleno “saving lives is not an offence”

The human rights activist Helena Maleno, was summoned to the appeal court in Tangier on the 10th and 31st of January. She was accused of human smuggling and of promoting illegal immigration because of her phone calls to the Spanish coast guard, Salvamento Maritimo. She calls them when she receives information about travellers in distress in the Strait of Gibraltar. The case of Helena Maleno which had been archived in Spain, was handed over to the Moroccan “jusice” by the Spanish police in order for her to be summoned. Now, the activist is waiting for the judge’s decision. The sentence could be several months in prison and indefinite fines.

“If defending the right to live brings me to prison, then that’s how it is”. (Helena Maleno)

Different associations, newspapers, activists, political and civil actors have spoken out to defend the activist against this injustice. The solidarity campaign: #defendiendoAMaleno published a support manifesto and an international call to defend those who defend others.

SPANISH / EUROPEAN POLITICS

The business of border control

The border control business is booming. Many companies concerned with security, weapons, trade and so on benefit from the implementation of border control systems. This is because European governments reinforce their migration control policies under the pretense of “fighting mafia and human trafficking”, which creates a big demand from the states for tools from these companies to stop the so-called “migration crisis”.

Thus, the investment by the EU in protection and security is dominated by the weapon lobby. The EU budget for 2017 in response to the “migrant and refugee crises” reached almost 6.000 million euros. It is also estimated that the money moving around this market reaches an annual 15.000 million euros, whose main beneficiaries are the companies dealing arms, security and defense.

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