Written by Umamah Bakharia
Over the weekend, videos circulating on social media showed a horrifying incident of bodies on the ground in pools of blood at the Millela border between Morocco and Spain. It also shows Moroccan police beating and kicking migrants while the Spanish Guardia Civil launches teargas at migrants trying to climb the borders fence.
At the time, there were approximately 1 200 people were trying to migrate to Spain and 22 people lost their lives.
This has led to the African Union and the Human Rights Watch calling for an immediate investigation of the incident. Speaking to Radio Islam, the Associate Director at the European and Asia Division at Human Rights Watch, Judith Sunderland says the Millela border which is on African territory, is one of the most fortified European borders. The border is surrounded by 6-10m high fences that were not too long ago covered in razor wire.
“Over the years, the lack of safe and legal channels to migrate because of Moroccon effort to stop people from even getting to the border to try and get into Spain, we’ve seen cases where people go in large groups to try and climb the fences and that is what happened [recently],” says Sunderland.
She states that the people trying to migrate to Spain come from a variety of people for different reasoning. “There are people who are searching for better opportunities, people who want to pursue their studies or work [and] there are also people fleeing prosecution and violence and other forms of abuse,” she says.
Reports claim that some migrants do manage to cross to the Spanish side, however, Spain reports them without any justification or chance to seek asylum.
According to Sunderland, the real blame for this crisis should be blamed on failed Spanish and European migrant policies that have made migrants resort to illegal means.