At dawn on Friday June 24, around 1,500 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa tried to enter the Spanish enclave of Melilla, in northeastern Morocco. The scale of the attempt, as well as its organized nature, took all the actors supposed to ensure border management by surprise.
It’s at the Barrio Chino border post, south of the fence, known to be one of the most easily crossed, that the first clashes broke out in the early morning between the Moroccan security forces (riot police and border guards) and the migrants. In January 2018, Morocco had already closed this crossing point following a stampede that left one dead and several injured.
The results of the day of June 24 are heavy: according to the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH), which is calling for the opening of a judicial inquiry, 27 people have died. Two deaths and 140 injuries are to be deplored on the side of the Moroccan police, while 130 migrants have managed to cross the border.
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The authorities of the province of Nador affirm in a press release that the victims died “in stampedes and falling from the fence”, approximately 12 kilometers long, 6 meters high and topped with barbed wire. The AMDH calls for the identification and autopsy of the bodies.
In addition, 65 migrants are currently being prosecuted by the kingdom, including 37 for “illegal entry on Moroccan soil”, “violence against law enforcement officers”, “armed crowd” and “refusal to comply”, according to their lawyer Khalid Ameza; 28 others are on trial for “participation in a criminal gang to organize and facilitate illegal immigration abroad”.