meanwhile in Morocco...

in order to please the European Governements the Moroccan authorities deport sub-saharan migrants to the algerian desert

01.Jan.07 - starting in the days before x-mas morroco seems to have initiated another round of deportations of sub-saharan migrants present on it's territory. On the morning of the 23rd of december raids against sub-Saharan Africans took place in different quarters of Rabat. Six busses with about 400 people left Rabat into the direction of Oujda (Algerian border). Among the arrested people were women, children, refugees and asylum seekers. There is fear that these arrestations are only the beginning of mass deportations to Algeria or even into the desert like in september 2005. Attac Morocco (and some other organisations) accuse the government of Morocco to play the role of an assistant police for the EU and demand the immediate liberation of the arrested people and that they will be brought back to Rabat.

The convoi of six busses was divided near Oujda and accompanied by the army, came across the Algerian border at three different points and the migrants were put outside in the middle of the night. According to official sources, 240-250 people were deported. Blockades of the gendarmerie (special police) prevented supporters from Oujda to go to the deportees. And their mobiles did not work, so they could not yet be contacted.

On the 24th of december there was a declaration of the Wali of Rabat in a moroccan tv programme. According to this, the raid seems to be an operation in the frame of "engagements of Morocco" in the frame of the Euro-African Conference which took place in Rabat in July 2006. Everything seemed "programmed" and well "organized", with even the presence of cameras and busses of the same colour belonging to the same company. It was not by accident that this operation was decided in the beginning of the Christmas holidays, which means that all responsible people and international institutions are at home to celebrate.

Update (24 December): About 100 migrants (of those deported across the Algerian border) managed to reach Oujda (Morocco) again. According to what they said, there are still between 100 and 150 persones about whom we do not have information. This proves that about 250 people were arrested. Their were thrown out of the busses yesterday evening at the Algerian border, in the night, persecuted by security forces who shot into the air to force them to go on to the Algerian territory. A lot of people fell down and arrived injured, in Oujda, were a team of Medicines sans frontières could give them first aid. These are also informations about the group who could reach the university campus of Oujda (a traditional meeting point of deported migrants who escape to Oujda).

At the moment, they could not yet eat anything an a network of organisations (mentioned below) in Oujda has found about 100 blankets and are beginning to organize a "people's kitchen". But it is raining and it is cold in Oujda, and the migrants were arrested in the night with whatever they could put on... In short, a dark Christmas night (not to forget that a good number of these people are christians).

Update (26 december): There is a media war in Morocco going on between the authorities and NGOs who support migrants and inform the international public about the ongoing human rights violations. The authorities reported this morning about attacks of 40 migrants at the fences of Ceuta and Melilla and took this as an excuse for the arrestations, deportations and violations of human rights.

Yesterday two more busses arrived in Oujda at the police station with sub-Saharan Africans from Nador. This shows that the whole operation is nation-wide and planned by the authorities, and they did it during a time when most of the activists of associations are on holidays.

Update (28 december): Summary of the latest news from Morocco, concretely from Oujda, in the east, on thursday 28 december: The Moroccan authorities have started to get into contact with human rights organisations in order to announce that they want to sort the "good" from the "bad" migrants, which means, identify the asylum seekers and refugees and separate them from the so-called "economic" migrants. The associations present in Oujda who try to support the migrants on the university campus send an emergency call: they do not have enough money to give them food and blankets, they need more people to distributes these things, and more and more migrants become sick because of the cold (they are still staying outside day and night), because of not enough food and the state of fear they are living in. Also reliable informations about the whereabouts of many deported people are still missing.

Update (01 january): The most important new facts are: Among the 280 people who were deported to the Algerian border, 150 could get back to Oujda. There is no information about the others. The arrested migrants could not take their belongings and their clothes, so they were brought to the border in underware, although it is very cold. There are at least 52 refugees and asylum seekers with documents from the UNHCR among the arrested people, 17 cases more are checked. Among the migrants, there are women with children, among them 4 under 2 years old and one with handicap. Two women are pregnant in the 7th and 5th month. They arrived at the campus in Oujda very shocked and tired and were brought to places where they are safe. 4 women were raped by moroccan (3) or algerian men. Among the migrants there were sick people, who were refused to take medecine. No food was provided to the migrants during their transport from Rabat to Oujda (600 km). Migrants were beaten with whips and sticks by the moroccan police and the algerian border police. There is one special case among the deported people: a Senegalese businessman who had been living in Marakesh/Morocco legally since 2004.