A protest was held outside the UNHCR's office in Rabat Morocco by African migrants on Tuesday. It comes after dozens died Friday while attempting to cross by force into the Spanish autonomous city of Melilla from Moroccan territory. The Spanish Attorney General's Office announced on Tuesday the opening of an investigation into the incident.
"We went to the city of Nador and they beat us badly. They killed our friends and family. The Moroccan government said there were 23 dead, but we know there are more than 70, it's inhumane. We call for no discrimination between migrants. " Omar, a Sudanese migrant said at the demonstration.
At least 23 migrants died and 140 police officers were injured, according to Moroccan authorities, when some 2,000 migrants tried to cross the high wire fence separating Melilla from the northern Moroccan border town of Nador.
"Many of these incidents were not filmed, there are many dead among us and currently, many young people are in prison, and several seriously injured. "We ask today to see the bodies and to identify them in order to inform their families in Sudan of what happened," We ask the human rights associations to intervene to treat the wounded, and at the same time we ask them to immediately evacuate us to safe countries, because we do not feel safe here." Omar added.
Melilla tragedy: investigation in Spain, UN denounces "excessive use of force
The Spanish Public Prosecutor's Office announced that it had "requested an investigation to shed light on what happened," hours after the UN demanded an independent inquiry into the tragedy, the deadliest ever recorded on the borders between Morocco and the two Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, the EU's only borders on the African continent.
The Spanish prosecutor's office motivated its decision by "the seriousness of the events that occurred, which could affect the human rights and fundamental rights of people".
For its part, the UN called on both countries to ensure "an effective and independent investigation" and denounced "excessive use of force" against migrants.
"This is unacceptable," said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, noting that the excessive use of force has been noted by the UN "on both sides of the border."
"We were shocked by the images of violence seen at the border between Morocco and Spain this weekend and which resulted in the death of dozens of human beings, asylum seekers, migrants," he said.
In Rabat, about fifty migrants demonstrated on Tuesday in front of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Rabat against the "inhumane" treatment inflicted by Moroccan law enforcement agencies on Friday and to claim refugee status, AFP noted.
"In Nador, we were beaten in an inhuman way," Omar, a Sudanese migrant who fled "war and prison" in his country, told AFP. "We don't feel safe here, our lives are in danger," he added.
"June 24 is a black day. There was pushing and shoving and then the police beat many of our brothers," said Ahmed, an Eritrean, denouncing a "butchery". "We want to know what happened so that we can explain it to the relatives of the deceased," he pleaded.
"Where are the rights of refugees in Morocco?" the protesters' placards read.
"The European Union, its member countries and Morocco are responsible for this disaster," said the Platform of Sub-Saharan Associations and Communities in Morocco (P.ASCOMS) in a petition published Tuesday.
The majority of new migrants flowing into Morocco come from Sudan, particularly from Darfur, where a new outbreak of violence has recently left hundreds dead and 50,000 displaced.
Many are coming through Libya and Algeria - despite an officially closed border with Morocco - to reach the Cherifian kingdom.
In the midst of a crisis with Algeria, Morocco has pointed the finger of blame at its neighbor in the Melilla tragedy, criticizing its "deliberate laxity" in controlling its borders with the kingdom, according to Spanish media citing a statement from the Moroccan embassy in Spain.
A statement described as a "flight forward" by the Algerian diplomat in charge of the Western Sahara issue, Amar Belani, who accused Rabat of looking for "scapegoats to get rid of its responsibilities", on the Algerian news website