Morocco uses buses, planes to deport hundreds of illegal immigrants |

Morocco uses buses, planes to deport hundreds of illegal immigrants

OUJDA, Morocco – Morocco sent hundreds of African immigrants home on flights for a second day Tuesday in a bid to stop the continent’s poor from using this North African kingdom as a stepping stone to Europe.Illegal immigrants were rounded up in buses around the country before being deported. A member of a Spanish anti-racism group said some were taken to military camps in the Western Sahara territory to the south before being placed on flights.Morocco has come under criticism for its handling of recent attempts by sub-Saharan Africans to rush barbed-wire fences at two Spanish enclaves in northern Morocco. Nearly a dozen Africans have died – some of gunshot wounds – as they attempted to get to the other side.Many of those being deported say Moroccan authorities initially stranded them in the desert before picking them up days later. Morocco denies it abandoned anyone.However, Morocco’s efforts to stop the surge of immigrants from using the country as a springboard to Spain drew international attention. Officials here insist the problem must be treated on an international scale.A Royal Air Maroc Boeing 737 carrying 140 Senegalese took off for Dakar, Senegal’s capital, on Tuesday morning from this city near the Algerian border where centers holding more than 1,000 immigrants have been set up. Two more flights were set for the evening, including a Boeing 747 carrying some 400 Malians to Bamako, Mali’s capital, Moroccan officials said.In a gymnasium housing 606 Malians, a woman identifying herself by her first name, Badialo, said she was going home poorer than when she arrived here a year ago.”I came here hoping to go to Spain, but it didn’t work. If I’m returning to Mali, it is because I have no choice,” she said. “I left Mali with very little money, and I’m returning home with even less.”Dozens of buses were dispersing immigrants in camps in Western Sahara towns like Smara and Dakhla ahead of expulsion to Mauritania, a member of the Spanish group SOS-Racismo said by telephone.Wrapping up a two-day visit to South Africa on Tuesday, Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot told reporters Europe has a “limited capacity” to take in immigrants. “The whole of Africa cannot be absorbed into Europe,” he said.His South African counterpart, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, said the immigration showed how Africa’s economic development “should become a priority of Europe.””Africa’s development will also result in Africans wanting to remain in Africa,” Dlamini-Zuma said.Vail, Colorado

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