Ceuta and Melilla : European prisons at the gates of Africa

African migrants arrested by Spanish forces on the highly-sharp border of the occupied enclave of Ceuta. Photo EPA

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Casablanca, Morocco (ADV) – Police abuse, “forced” evictions, poor reception conditions, the Spanish migration policy in the occupied enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla challenges the international community.

At the gates of a Europe that does not want them, migrants believe in a Western Eldorado of which they do not know the harsh realities.

Most come from countries used to be colonised by France. Sub-Saharans, whose grandparents gave their lives to saving a Western Europe occupied by the Nazis, are today welcomed on African “occupied” soil by the blows and sticks of the Spanish military.

Unknown to the Spaniards themselves, Ceuta and Melilla are two towns and enclaves, remains of a long colonial past.

The enclaves occupied by Spain of Ceuta and Melilla, located on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco, form the only Euro-African land borders.

In 1956, at the time of Morocco’s independence, Spain refused to leave the two occupied enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.

Since 1961, supported by all Arab countries, the Organization of African Unity, as well as the USSR, Morocco raised its legitimate demands on the cities of Ceuta and Melilla before the UN General Assembly.

Proud of its African heritage, Morocco is a welcoming land for sub-Saharan migrants. The country grants them residence cards each year to regularize their situation.

Amnesty International reports very often the practices “not in conformity with international law” used by Spain at the border of the two occupied cities.

The latter qualifies these as “territories of lawlessness”. Spain built in Ceuta and Melilla 6 meter long wire fences with highly sharp blades.

Academicians of international law call this barrier a new wall of shame, after that built by the United States of America on the Mexican border.

Sub-Saharan migrants choose to live in neighboring cities of Ceuta and Melilla awaiting for opportunities to cross the border.

These assaults of all dangers often result in victims being shot by Spanish border guards in Ceuta and Melilla.

For the ones who succeed to make it to the other side, their happiness does not last so long. Human rights NGOs criticize Brussels and through it, the Spanish authorities for the hard conditions of accommodation of migrants in the centers (CETI) of the two Spanish cities. The centers are also overcrowded: up to 10 migrants per room of 30 square meters.

All reports agree on discriminations that some of them are facing on the basis of their nationality, and the lack of protection for the most vulnerable ones such as the disabled and victims of trafficking.

According to Esteban Beltrán, director of Amnesty International Spain, the asylum law is not applied in the same way in Ceuta and Melilla and the Iberian Peninsula.

“Some nationalities, … are discriminated following their transfer to the peninsula and they do not receive the necessary care that they need,” he said.

Morocco continues to campaign for the rights of Africans to enjoy every honorable conditions that they deserve and that they be granted to circulate freely all over the place.

The Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration will be held in Marrakesh, Morocco, on 10 and 11 December 2018.

African nations do not impose visas on European citizens wishing to visit their rich continent.

Will European leaders seize this concert of nations’ opportunity in Morocco, to return to Africans their long stolen dignities ?

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