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Migration pressure on Morocco is first and foremost a shared African responsibility

Migrants sit on top of a fence as they attempt to reach Melilla, the Spanish exclave on the north African coast, 22 October 2014. EPA/FRANCISCO G. GUERRERO

Migrants sit on top of a fence as they attempt to reach Melilla, the Spanish exclave on the north African coast, 22 October 2014. EPA/FRANCISCO G. GUERRERO

Published Jun 29, 2022

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By Anele Danker

Johannesburg - After the events of Melilla, many have been those who accuse Morocco without really considering the facts.

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The feeling of African solidarity towards the human losses of our brothers and sisters, regretted by all and by Morocco in the first place, must not overshadow our ability to be critical, in other words to understand before judging.

Understand first that the migratory pressure exerted on Morocco does not date from yesterday and that the country has perhaps too long endured, alone and without the required support, a heavy responsibility, from which it has never withdrawn.

A human responsibility that stems in more than one respect from the political bankruptcy of the countries of origin of these migrants who unfortunately often have no choice but to flee en masse from war, misery, and poverty, aspiring to a better future under different skies than those who saw them born.

Morocco has always been a welcoming society, consciously chosen by many migrants who have made the kingdom their country of adoption, finding there not only the prospect of a better life, but the full possibility of reversing their destiny, thanks to a legislation that advocates solidarity, hospitality, and generosity. The global strategy advocated by Morocco under the sovereign Mohammed VI has indeed allowed hundreds of thousands of African migrants to settle in the kingdom legally, with a job, housing, education for their children and a peaceful family life.

For Morocco, the policy of integration of migrants is a strategic course that enriches the diversity and vitality of Moroccan society; an open land at the crossroads of civilisations for millennia.

So if we take a close look at what happened in Melilla, we realise that the migratory phenomenon also has another facet, sometimes violent, which puts countries like Morocco, because of their geography, in difficulty, making tragedies not only anecdotal but almost inevitable.

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The misery, and the African failure to deal with this phenomenon at the continental level benefits organised networks of human trafficking that operate clandestinely as mafias throughout Africa. These same networks are responsible for the tragedy of Melilla, of which Morocco is at the end only one of the numerous victims.

Several concordant elements attest to this. First, the choice of the point of attack: the assault was not oriented in a classic way towards the chain-link fence, but towards the post called Barrio-chino reserved for the passage of residents from and towards Melilla before its closure in 2020 following Covid-19. The Moroccan authorities have informed that this post has four narrow corridors, and the massive influx of attackers into these cramped corridors caused an important jostling. The death toll is 23 migrants and 76 injured, 18 of whom are still hospitalised.

Then, the extreme violence of the assailants and the assault strategy which prevailed, and which denotes a high sense of organisation, a planned progression, and a hierarchical structure of seasoned and trained leaders with the profiles of experienced militiamen in conflict zones.

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Some information reveals that the attackers infiltrated through the border with Algeria, taking advantage of the country’s deliberate laxity in controlling its borders with Morocco.The assailants, armed with sticks, machetes, stones and knives attacked the security forces injuring 140 Moroccan officers, one of whom is still hospitalised.

It is to be noted that, throughout this event, the police officers demonstrated a high sense of mastery and professionalism. Morocco, which deplores this human tragedy, said it will continue to act firmly and relentlessly against trafficking networks and this violent minority which distorts the noble dimension of migration.

Morocco has also stated that it will continue, in accordance with the High Royal Guidelines, to strengthen its dynamics of humanist, inclusive and united migratory governance, in the continuity of its eminently African vocation and around the cardinal paradigm of the protection of migrants and vulnerable victims.

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The country remains steadfast in its will to also strengthen its policy of voluntary returns of migrants to their countries of origin, with respect for their rights and dignity and in co-ordination with the embassies of brotherly and friendly African countries.

The kingdom has called for an active solidarity between North and South through structural solutions for sustainable development and the encouragement of legal flows. A call to all of us Africans to participate in the eradication of the African shortcomings that push many of our brothers and sisters to the dangerous adventure of a race that should not be in the first place.

The Star

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