Morocco deports Malians, says Europe and Algeria must do more against illegal immigration |

Morocco deports Malians, says Europe and Algeria must do more against illegal immigration

RABAT, Morocco – Morocco started deporting hundreds of Malians on Wednesday, and senior Moroccan officials accused European nations and neighboring Algeria of not doing enough to help stem the flow of illegal African immigrants seeking to reach Europe.”They demand too much of Morocco, use every argument to attack it,” said Tayeb Fassi Fihri, Morocco’s secretary for foreign affairs and cooperation.Both he and Interior Minister Mustafa el Sahel called for a regional conference on the illegal immigration crisis that has gathered pace in recent weeks.Sahel said Morocco has added thousands of border guards but “is receiving no aid at all – either from European countries or others.””We expect of Europe big humanity. We expect of Europe big generosity. We expect of Europe, for sure, to aid sub-Saharan countries … it has a moral responsibility,” he said.The European Union responded by urging a massive development, aid and debt relief program to curb attempts to gatecrash rich nations.”Fences, however high these may be, will under current circumstances not stop desperate people,” EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini said. “Our intention is, during the coming days and weeks, to intensify Europe’s commitment toward Africa.”The Africans sent home Wednesday were all picked up after attempting to rush razor-wire fences around the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta on the northern Moroccan coast in recent weeks, and in sweeps elsewhere in Morocco.The first of five flights that will carry a total of 606 Malians took off Wednesday morning from Oujda in northeastern Morocco, bound for Mali’s capital, Bamako, the official Moroccan MAP news agency reported. The Royal Air Maroc Boeing 737 had 140 Malians aboard, it said.Another flight was planned for Wednesday night and three more on Thursday, MAP said.Morocco also deported 549 Senegalese on four flights from Oujda on Monday and Tuesday, the agency said.The interior minister, speaking to reporters late Tuesday night, said Morocco regretted the recent deaths of Africans trying to enter the Spanish enclaves.He promised a thorough investigation. “We shall not hide anything,” he said.On Sept. 29, five immigrants were shot to death while trying to get into Ceuta, and six more died in clashes with Moroccan security forces at the Melilla border last week.Sahel said Morocco has reduced the flow of immigrants to Europe. In the past, sub-Saharan Africans reaching Spain from Morocco represented 10 per cent of Spain’s total illegal immigrant population, but that has since fallen to 5 percent, he said.Most migrants enter Morocco from neighboring Algeria with help from organized gangs that “assemble them and transport them across the Algerian border,” said the minister.He said thousands are still arriving in two towns on the Algerian side.Morocco has also come under criticism from Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders, for allegedly abandoning migrants in desert areas after they were expelled by Spain.About 1,000 people had now been brought to the region of Bou-Izakarn, in southeastern Morocco, the group said Wednesday.”These people have been traveling for nearly a week in very difficult conditions and have been dispersed bit by bit by Moroccan authorities in several places throughout the country,” Doctors Without Borders said.The aid group said the immigrants deserved “decent treatment” and urged Moroccan authorities to give them access to medical supplies, water, food and shelter. Some were sick or pregnant, it said.But Morocco’s ambassador to France, Fathallah Sijilmassi, said Wednesday that all migrants who “at one moment or another were out in the open … today have shelter and food.”He urged Algeria to secure its frontiers and asked the European Union to make combatting illegal immigration more of a priority.”It is not up to us to be policemen alone,” he said on France-Info radio.Vail, Colorado

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