immigration crisis

Morocco asks Spain for funds to help with on-the-spot deportations of migrants

Rabat hails improved bilateral cooperation and says it is doing all it can

Moroccan police and auxiliary forces hold back a group of sub-Saharans near Melilla. / BLASCO DE AVELLANEDA (AFP)

Morocco is asking Spain and the European Union for more money to fight illegal immigration along its borders with the Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.

Rabat claims that it is keeping up its part of the bilateral cooperation agreement signed between both countries in 1992, especially with regard to accepting back illegal migrants who are deported on the spot from Spanish territory. Border authorities have been increasingly resorting to this controversial practice in the last three months, as migratory pressure on the frontier fences has grown.

But, the Moroccan government continues, “there are provisions in article 11 of the [migrant] readmission agreement that have not been implemented, in connection with technical and financial support for the Kingdom of Morocco.”

Rabat also considers itself as much a “target” of human trafficking mafias as Spain, and feels that its own improved control of the coastline is causing the gangs to shift the migratory flow to the border fences around these two Spanish cities on the African continent.

More than 1,600 sub-Saharans have made it through the border fences and into European territory so far this year, which is more than in the whole of 2013. Since the beginning of 2014, immigrants have increasingly been making organized runs in groups of several hundred people, in the hope that the Spanish and Moroccan police will not be able to intercept them all.

The Moroccan government took pains to convey that it is doing all it can to help

In its first official statement about the immigration issue, which was prompted by questions from EL PAÍS, Rabat said that “control mechanisms along the coastline are forcing traffic rings to try to infiltrate [immigrants] using the modus operandi of assaults on the fences.”

The Moroccan government took pains to convey that it is doing all it can to help, and that it is very pleased with the current state of bilateral relations under the Spanish government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, of the Popular Party.

“Moroccan authorities continue to reinforce human and material resources to control land, sea and air traffic, in the framework of the fight against the rings that traffic with illegal immigrants. The efforts deployed so far have yielded significant results, in particular a 92-percent drop in illegal immigrants coming into Spain from Morocco.”

These sources are referring to the fall in the number of immigrant boats reaching the Spanish coast, which used to be the preferred mode of entry a few years ago.

Official sources cited several examples of bilateral cooperation measures now being implemented, such as mixed land, sea and air patrols that bring together members of the Spanish Civil Guard and the Royal Gendarmerie; the exchange of liaison officers; two police cooperation centers in Tangier and Algeciras; and a joint police analysis team specializing in illegal immigration issues.

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