In southern Morocco, more than 500 immigrants have been abandoned and left to fend for themselves after being expelled from Ceuta and Melilla
MSF has already treated more than 50 of these immigrants suffering from wounds and bruises. Although some contusions may be the result of falls and other accidents, other injuries have clearly been caused by rubber bullets and beatings, proving, once again, that the immigrants are victim of violence perpetrated by the Spanish and Moroccan police.
Barcelona/El Aouina-Souatar - Last night a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) team tracked a group of more than 500 sub-Saharan immigrants who have been abandoned by Moroccan authorities and left to fend for themselves in a desert area located south of Morocco where there is no access to food or water.
According to these immigrants, Moroccan police forces drove them there on buses and trucks (the area is 600 kilometres south of Oujda, on the Algerian border, where they used to be relocated) after being expelled from Ceuta and Melilla, two Spanish enclaves in Morocco.
MSF has already treated more than 50 of these immigrants suffering from wounds and bruises. Some had tried to jump over the fences and enter Spanish territory of Ceuta and Melilla. Although some contusions may be the result of falls and other accidents, other injuries have clearly been caused by rubber bullets and beatings, proving, once again, that the immigrants are victim of violence perpetrated by the Spanish and Moroccan police.
Although MSF found the immigrants near the town of El Aouina-Souatar, according to their accounts, the expulsions take took place 30 kilometres to the east, very close to the Algerian border. This is a desert area in the middle of nowhere without access to either food or water.
Confronted with this situation, MSF has launched an emergency intervention including medical care and distribution of water, food and blankets. It is also preparing to ship more supplies from Tangiers.
The MSF teams will initially target care to the most vulnerable immigrants, particularly pregnant women, children and wounded. They will also refer the most serious cases (six so far) to the hospital in the town of Bouarfa, located further north.
Some testimonies report having seen dead bodies of immigrants near the Algerian border. MSF is attempting to verify this information. However, the organisation can already confirm that the immigrants who were in a good condition have already set out on a rough 600 kilometre journey across the desert in order to reach the border with Spain once again.
Javier Gabald³n, coordinating the emergency intervention in southern Morocco, has denounced: "the expulsion and later abandonment of these immigrants to an area without access to food or water and with no possibility of receiving medical and humanitarian aid, with the added difficulty that many of them are sick and injured."
Returning these immigrants, as has been agreed between Spain and Morocco, to a country with minimal reception capacity to guarantee the fundamental rights of the people, violates Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
According to this article in the Convention – signed by both countries – none of the Member States will proceed to expel, return or extradite a person to another State in which obvious or massive manifest violations of human rights are taking place.