May 2021, Special coverage of events in Ceuta | Press Review Morocco

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Photo: Mario Sánchez Bueno on wikipedia commons

COMIRE selected of articles explaining some of the reasons behind the migration events in Ceuta in addition to the latest developments in Ceuta, such as reactions of the EU, reactions of NGOs and situation of migrants in Ceuta.

Background information on the events in Ceuta

Fnideq-Tanger-Tetouan region: border trade
and consequences of border closure

In this section, we explore two topics: The border trader and the consequences or border closer, and we take a deeper look at the abuse, theft and harassment of “women mules” in Morocco. We explore through these articles concepts such the informality of borders, and how “the closure of the border post for porters between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta is causing an “unprecedented” socio-economic crisis”.


Alternatives, contestations and aspirations for a better life

In this section, we explore the current social and economic situation in M’diq-Fnideq, and how it is causing young people to collectively risk their lives at sea.


Historical and geo-political issues

In this section, we dive into the historical underpinnings of the current conflict, looking at the story of the last two “Spanish” enclaves in North Africa, the behind-the-scenes story of the stay of Polisario Front leader Brahim Ghali in Spain, who is the subject of an international arrest warrant issued by the Spanish judiciary in November 2016, a few months after he became head of the Polisario.


Laws, agreements and practices at the borders

In this section, we provide you with a brief overview of the main agreements between Spain and Morocco and laws applicable at the borders for migrants and minors.


Ceuta events, May 2021: News feed and main/latest developments

May 17, 2021

A thousand Moroccans swim to Ceuta [update]

Around a thousand Moroccan migrants have managed to enter the city, including several women and children. According to sources in the government delegation in Ceuta, quoted this Monday evening by EFE. These include 300 Moroccans who may be minors, pending the completion of tests by the Spanish authorities. They told the Spanish agency that this is “one of the most critical days of migration that the city has faced in recent years”, as the number of migrants has exceeded the capacity of the Tarajal industrial warehouse, where they must be kept in quarantine due to Covid-19.

Earlier in the day, the Europa Press agency explained that Moroccan migrants entered Ceuta irregularly during the night and the first hours of Monday, along the breakwaters of the maritime border. Citing Spanish police sources, the agency said the Moroccan security forces were “passive” and did “nothing to stop” the migrants.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

18 May, 2021

Ceuta – thousands of migrants sent back to Morocco, army deployed at the border

After the arrival of nearly 6,000 migrants in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on Monday, tensions are running high in northern Morocco. The Spanish authorities have deployed soldiers to the border between the two countries. At the same time, they expelled 2,600 people who had arrived in the enclave the day before.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez promised on Tuesday 18 May to “restore order” in Ceuta after the influx of some 6,000 migrants into the Spanish enclave from neighbouring Morocco the previous day. On Tuesday morning, hundreds of exiles continued to head towards Spanish territory by swimming or walking along the sea. The arrivals continue “but at a lower rate than yesterday (Monday),” the head of government told AFP, without providing precise figures.

Spain deployed the army on Tuesday morning at its border with Morocco. Soldiers are patrolling alongside Spanish police on the outskirts of the territory and inside Ceuta to maintain order in the city’s streets.

Morocco also reinforced its surveillance in the early hours of the day around the border post of Fnideq, a town bordering Ceuta. Moroccan police used tear gas and non-lethal weapons to disperse crowds of people trying to enter the enclave, AFP reporters noted.

2,700 migrants deported

Meanwhile, Spain’s interior minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, announced on Tuesday that 2,700 migrants – out of the 6,000 disembarked the previous day – had been deported to Morocco and that the deportations were continuing. An agreement signed between Madrid and Rabat allows the Spanish authorities to send back Moroccans who arrived illegally in the enclave.

On arrival in Ceuta, the migrants were transferred to a stadium “with a view to their expulsion”, said the local prefecture.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

Around a hundred sub-Saharans enter Melilla

After Ceuta, Melilla is also experiencing the arrival of migrants. At around 3.45am (Moroccan time), around 300 sub-Saharans tried to enter the city from the port of Beni N’Sar, reports El Faro de Melilla. A few hours earlier, the president of the city, Edouardo de Castro, announced that he had in fact “ordered the local police to prohibit the access of vehicles through Paseo del Dique Sur (south of the city) to facilitate its control by the state security forces.

The intervention of Moroccan and Spanish public forces prevented around 200 people from climbing the fence, the same publication added, citing “sources at the Government Delegation”. According to the report, 85 men and one woman entered. All of them were immediately presented to the Red Cross services and then transferred to the migrant detention centre.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

Morocco-Spain crisis – Rabat recalls its ambassador to Madrid for consultations

The disagreement between Rabat and Madrid continues to grow as time goes by. The migratory crisis, which shakes the enclave of Sebta, pushed the Spanish diplomacy to summon the Moroccan ambassador to Spain Karima Benyaich. She was received this afternoon by the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha Gonzales Laya, to clarify what is happening in the enclaves of Sebta and Melila, which are being invaded by huge crowds of migrants from the northern cities of the Kingdom. Although the Spanish news agency EFE has only relayed good words from the head of Spanish diplomacy, who merely dismissed the influx of migrants gently, the Moroccan ambassador has not failed to make Morocco’s position known in an abrupt and unequivocal manner in the wake of the diplomatic crisis between the two countries. “There are acts that have consequences and that must be assumed,” she said in a statement to the Spanish press, adding that there are “attitudes that cannot be accepted.

This prompt exchange between the two leaders is far from calming the diplomatic row between Rabat and Madrid, which started when Brahim Ghali was welcomed on Spanish soil by an Algerian diplomatic passport. Morocco did not hesitate to recall Karima Benyaich, shortly after her meeting with Arancha Gonzales Laya, according to Spanish media such as El Païs or El Mundo, an information confirmed by Moroccan diplomatic sources.

In any case, the Spanish government seems to be tempering its ardour despite the influx of migrants, knowing that Morocco continues to assume its commitments in the fight against clandestine migration. Gendarmerie and auxiliary forces have been patrolling the borders with the Sebta enclave to prevent migrants from entering.

The head of Spanish diplomacy expressed her government’s “desire” to “look to the future” and “prevent such acts from happening again”. However, until the case of Brahim Ghali is resolved, there is no sign of an improvement between the two neighbouring countries in the coming days.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

May 19, 2021

Sebta: MAP comes out of its silence to denounce Spain’s “betrayal” and “schizophrenia

After three days of silence around the events of Sebta, it is under the pen of its director, Khalil Hachimi Idrissi, that MAP decided to catch up. And it’s going to be all over the place.

What is distressing in the Moroccan-Spanish crisis is that the Spaniards are clumsily pretending to be the victims of a crisis situation for which they are not responsible. Ridiculous!”, begins the article entitled “A little lesson in things”, before going back over the chronology of events that have raised the tension in Moroccan-Spanish relations.

Contacted by TelQuel on 18 May to understand the reasons for the silence of the national press agency while 8,000 people had already crossed the Tajaral border post in less than 24 hours, the director of Maghreb Arabe Presse, Khalil Hachimi Idrissi, assured that he would only broadcast information “when the government has finished settling its position”, arguing that “one cannot fabricate a position as long as it does not yet exist”.

In his long article, Khalil Hachimi Idrissi recalls the facts chronologically, from Brahim Ghali’s hospitalisation in Spain to the influx of migrants into the Spanish enclave of Sebta, and does not lack qualifiers for the behaviour of our northern neighbours.

The information is sacred, the commentary is (very) free

“They receive, for humanitarian reasons they say, a war criminal – Brahim Ghali, leader of a Polisario at war with Morocco – who is acting on behalf of Algeria to attack the territorial integrity of Morocco, and who moreover is requested by their own jurisdictions. This is quite exceptional, the director of MAP points out. With Algeria’s complicity, the war criminal in question is brought in with a real-false Algerian passport in the name of Mohamed Ben Batouche, he is installed in the Logroño hospital and we hope that the secret will be well kept, especially with regard to the Moroccans.

And he points to Madrid’s “confounding naivety”, playing the irony card: “Our Spanish friends should at least explain to us the intelligence of this strategy. Its geopolitical soundness. Its diplomatic subtlety. Its quintessence in terms of partnership, friendship and well understood interests.

“A real betrayal”

“Is the quantity – as our Iberian friends say – of security relations between Morocco and Spain so insignificant as to be written off and put on the back burner to accommodate Mohamed Ben Batouche? We need to find the master strategist who came up with this idea to award him the medal of the useful idiot of the year. It’s appalling,” says the head of the national news agency.

“But what do they expect from Morocco? To be a state without charisma, without legitimacy, without interests, without national pride or without history “Khalil Hachimi Idrissi, director of MAP

And to extend to Europe and its “broken charm”, “member states on a drip of euros without any awareness of a shared destiny”, capable of “puerile rantings towards third countries”. “But what do they expect from Morocco? To be a state without charisma, without legitimacy, without interests, without national pride or without history. To say yes to Madrid and its ridiculous lies, to say yes to Brussels and its subsidies, to say yes to Berlin and its aborted neo-colonial complex, and then what?” says Khalil Hachimi Idrissi.

“It would be suicidal for us to continue to go along with people who are not loyal, who are hypocrites, liars, who stick a knife in your back at the first opportunity, who are incapable of building a balanced strategic alliance based on well understood interests. There is nothing to be done. It now appears that this path is blocked. The Sebta affair is a return of reality to a fantasised relationship,” he said.

“A total schizophrenia”

“In the past, honourable governments have resigned for less. But here, it is the reign of amateurism, the time of honour is over. The mise en abyme is perfect when the Spaniards talk about the territorial integrity of Spain when it comes to Sebta. Their tremolos in their voices are touching,” notes Khalil Hachimi Idrissi, referring to Madrid’s vague position on Moroccan territorial integrity. “What about the territorial integrity of the kingdom and its sovereignty over its southern provinces? No! No parallelism in sight, no similarities, no convergence or no rapprochement of ideas. The schizophrenia is total.

And he concludes: “Pedro Sanchez’s poor government is driving straight into the wall, honking its horn.”

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

Mustapha Ramid: “Spain has favoured the Polisario and Algeria”

The Minister of State for Human Rights, Mustapha Ramid, expressed himself on his Facebook page about the tensions between Morocco and Spain. For him, Madrid has shown a totally irresponsible and unacceptable attitude.

Mustapha Ramid is the first member of the government to express himself on the tensions between Morocco and Spain, in the wake of the border crisis between Fnideq and Sebta.

The Minister of State for Human Rights believes that the reception by Spain of the Polisario leader in one of its hospitals, under a false identity, was done in disregard of good neighbourliness which requires coordination and consultation. For him, this is a totally irresponsible and unacceptable act.

Mustapha Ramid also wondered what Spain expected by welcoming the leader of a militia that bears arms against a neighbouring country. He was surprised by the secrecy of this operation and questioned Spain’s intentions in trying to preserve Brahim Ghali’s identity.

He also wondered what Madrid’s reaction would have been if it had been Morocco that had taken such a step. For him, it is clear that Spain has favoured its relations with the Polisario and Algeria rather than Morocco.

He concluded that Morocco has made many sacrifices for the sake of its neighbourly relationship with Spain, and that its reaction to the failure to respect reciprocity is entirely legitimate.

Mustapha Ramid therefore calls on Madrid to review its neighbourhood policy with Morocco and to show respect.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

Ceuta: “Europe will not be intimidated by anyone”

Europe “will not let itself be intimidated by anyone” on the issue of migration, European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas said on Wednesday, referring to the influx of thousands of migrants from Morocco into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta.

In a clear reference to Morocco, Schinas said in an interview with Spanish public radio that Europe would “not be a victim of these tactics”.

“Ceuta is Europe, this border is a European border and what is happening there is not Madrid’s problem, it is the problem of all” Europeans, said Mr Schinas, speaking in Spanish.

Brussels had already expressed solidarity with Spain on Tuesday and called on Morocco, through the voice of European Commissioner Ylva Johansson, to prevent “irregular departures” from its territory.

“No one can intimidate or blackmail the European Union,” said Schinas, who recalled that there had already been “a few attempts by third countries (…) over the last 15 months to instrumentalise” the migration issue.

“We cannot tolerate this,” he said, referring to Turkey by name.

According to the latest figures from the Spanish government, nearly 8,000 migrants have entered Ceuta illegally since Monday morning. About 4,000 have already been sent back to Morocco, according to the same source.

Against the backdrop of a major diplomatic crisis with Morocco, linked to the reception in Spain for treatment of the leader of the Sahrawi independence movement Polisario Front, the Spanish government responded on Tuesday by summoning the Moroccan ambassador to express its “displeasure” with the arrival of these thousands of migrants.

Morocco immediately recalled its ambassador to Rabat “for consultation”.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

Moroccan Human Rights Organisation calls on Spanish authorities to respect the asylum agreement

The Moroccan Organisation for Human Rights is following with great concern the events in the two occupied cities in the north of the Kingdom (Melilla and Ceuta in particular), which have been taking place since last Monday.
The organization said in a statement, a copy of which was received by Shamspost: “Based on reports from its members in Tetouan, Tangier, Nador and Oujda, on the one hand, and on the other hand, based on films recorded by citizens, immigrants, and asylum seekers in the vicinity or within the two cities, as well as live testimonies, the Moroccan Organization for Human Rights has recorded the drowning of a young man in the waters of the sea bordering the city of Fnideq.

The organisation also recorded, as stated in the report: “Thousands of migrants, immigrants and asylum seekers have been expelled by the Spanish army; The use of excessive violence by the Spanish army, including beatings with sticks, kicks and even the use of tear gas and live ammunition, according to some testimonies, has also been recorded, in addition to practices that degrade human dignity and the expulsion of a group of asylum seekers despite their presentation as such to the Spanish Red Crescent…Hundreds of children are being deported without taking into account their best interests,” the communication added. The report also highlighted “the limited number of employees to receive this category, the thousands of young Moroccans, migrants and immigrants from all over Morocco who have flocked to the northern cities and the use of unofficial signals to deepen the differences between Morocco and Spain, and even the European Union.

The organisation confirmed, according to the same communication, “its disapproval of what the Spanish authorities have done regarding the asylum applications submitted by Yemenis, Syrians and sub-Saharan countries suffering from political unrest”. It called on the Spanish authorities to respect the 1951 Refugee Convention and to accept the applications of the rest of those who have entered the two cities.
And it called for the need for the Spanish authorities to respect the best interests of the child, both in relation to the inhumane treatment of the children with whom they have been treated or in relation to their expulsion.

The Moroccan authorities in the regions of Tangier-Tetouan, Al Hoceima and Al-Sharqia have called for increased efforts to find radical solutions for those directly and indirectly affected by the smuggling of livelihoods.

For more information, please consult (in Arabic) the following link. To see some videos of the situation at the border, please see here and here. (disclaimer: the videos contains some sensitive content that the viewers might find distressing and disturbing)

Spain/Morocco: Migrants are abused and used as “pawns” at the Ceuta border

Children beaten by Spanish guards after the border gates were opened. The clash appears to be a “retaliation” by Morocco to the medical treatment of a separatist leader in Spain.

The violations committed in Spain are also those committed in the EU” – Virginia Álvarez

Amnesty International has denounced the mistreatment of migrants by Spanish security forces and the army at the border with Morocco in the Spanish territory of Ceuta, located in North Africa. Many people – including children – have been abused by Spanish security forces, including being thrown into the sea, after Morocco opened its borders.

Recent video footage appears to show Moroccan border guards waving migrants through their controls in Ceuta. More than 8,000 people – including about 2,000 unaccompanied children – have entered Ceuta from Morocco. In many cases, they have been subject to collective expulsion. Amnesty reminds the authorities that they must ensure that the best interests of the child are protected in all cases and that these young people should be able to apply for international protection if necessary.

Around 5,000 people have reportedly been collectively deported to Morocco by the Spanish authorities in recent days. Spanish military forces deployed at the border have carried out collective and forced returns without safeguards, making it impossible to identify vulnerable people or ensure that they receive adequate information or legal assistance.

It seems that migrants are being used as pawns in a political game between Morocco and Spain. A Facebook post by the Moroccan Minister of Human Rights indicates that the opening of the border was done in “retaliation” for the medical treatment a Polisario leader received in Spain, suggesting that Moroccan authorities may have used the migrants as part of an international dispute.

Morocco has a long history of violating migrants’ rights at this border. In the past, Amnesty has documented illegal raids, arrests and forced evictions of migrants from camps and houses near the Spanish borders into southern Morocco.

Virginia Álvarez, internal policy officer at Amnesty International Spain, said:

“We cannot accept that people, including children, are being beaten by Spanish forces. Border officials have provided emergency assistance to people, but the abuse cannot be tolerated. The Spanish authorities must launch a full investigation and ensure that those responsible are held to account.”

“EU leaders have been quick to support Spain and say that Spanish borders are EU borders. By the same logic, Spanish abuses are also EU abuses. We call on European leaders not to turn a blind eye to the abuses taking place at the EU’s borders.”

“Morocco is playing with people’s lives. It must not use people, including its own citizens, as pawns in a political game.”

For more information, please consult (in English) the following link.

May 20, 2021

Sebta: Spanish Defence Minister accuses Morocco of “aggression” and “blackmail

The Spanish government has raised its voice against Morocco, accused of “aggression” and “blackmail” by the Minister of Defence after the arrival of more than 8,000 migrants in Sebta earlier this week.

The influx of these migrants from neighbouring Morocco is “an aggression against the Spanish borders, but also against the borders of the European Union”, Margarita Robles denounced on public radio, denouncing “blackmail” by Rabat, which she accused of “using minors”.

As a reminder, between Monday and Wednesday, around 8,000 would-be migrants – an unprecedented influx – reached the Spanish enclave of Sebta, taking advantage of a relaxation of border controls on the Moroccan side, against the backdrop of a diplomatic crisis between Madrid and Rabat. Migrants talk to Spanish civil guards after swimming to the Spanish enclave of Sebta from neighbouring Morocco, 17 May 2021.

Return to calm

Calm has returned on Thursday 20 May after night clashes between young people determined to reach Europe and police at the exit of Fnideq, according to AFP journalists.

After a turbulent night, the border crossing was deserted on Thursday morning. On the Spanish side, there was no movement on the beach of Tarajal, which was being walked by Spanish soldiers and two armoured vehicles, according to journalists on both sides of the border.

For more information, please consult (the French) the following link.

Ceuta crisis – Washington and Paris adopt a balanced position between Morocco and Spain – Le Desk

Le Desk publishes an article exploring the reactions of France and the United States to the events in Ceuta. Contrary to expectations, Paris decided to remain neutral: “We have carefully followed the events in Ceuta, which remind us of the importance and topicality of the migration issue. We have confidence in the action of the Spanish government, which has the support of the whole of the European Union, to allow a rapid return to normality in Ceuta,” said the Quai d’Orsay spokesperson on 19 May.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

Moroccan minors who arrived in Ceuta spend their nights on the streets

The situation of Moroccan minors who arrived in Ceuta remains worrying to say the least. While some are spread out in various shelters and industrial buildings in the city, others wander the streets of the city without money or food and sometimes have to sleep in parks or abandoned factories, writes the Spanish channel Antena 3 on Wednesday evening.

Some parents, not knowing what has happened to their children since they left for Ceuta, have approached the border crossing to try to see them. The Spanish authorities have set up a special telephone number for those wishing to make enquiries.

Antena 3 adds that the minors who have arrived in Ceuta in the last three days are being tested for the coronavirus, saying that “some of them have tested positive” without specifying how many. The central government and the autonomous communities have reached an agreement to offer around 200 places to unaccompanied migrant minors who were already in Ceuta before the mass arrival of new minors.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

956512413 is the telephone number for families looking for Moroccan children

956512413: This is the telephone number that has been set up in Ceuta for Moroccan families who are looking for minors who have entered our city to call, as many of them have returned without informing their families directly.

It will be the child protection service of the autonomous city that will manage this difficult task, that of gathering the unaccompanied minors who have arrived en masse in Ceuta in the last three days with their families. They cannot be returned, as is done with adults, and the debate is open as to what to do with them, since our city cannot assist or support the kind of migratory pressure that currently exists.

Thus, the process is long and difficult, these minors are not documented and it is necessary to formalise a reunion with parents who claim them, to verify with documents that they are their children and to hand them over.

There are many Moroccan families on the other side of the border who call Ceuta -institutions, NGOs, individuals, acquaintances, media…- to find out about their children. Many minors left for Tarajal beach without their parents’ knowledge, also encouraged by friends or lies that they were going for some kind of adventure with the risk that this entails.

With this, 956512413 is the official phone number that these families have to call to find out what happened to these minors, whose fathers and mothers on the other side of the border do not know what happened to them. There are repeated testimonies of desperation to know where their children are and this telephone number is the starting point to start giving official information, also with the aim of reunification.

It should be remembered that this Wednesday an extraordinary session of the Territorial Council of Social Services was held due to the migratory crisis that Ceuta is experiencing and that the Government of the Nation has proposed to the communities to take in around 200 minors, without specifying yet if this will finally be achieved.

For more information, please consult (in Spanish) the following link.

Rabat does not accept Madrid’s attempts to hide the real origin of the crisis

Spain has tried in recent days to divert the attention of public opinion and has engaged in maneuvers to hide the true origin of the Moroccan-Spanish crisis, which lies in the fact that Madrid preferred to scheme with Morocco’s opponents on a fundamental issue for the Kingdom and Moroccans, said Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans Living Abroad, Nasser Bourita.

The Spanish manoeuvres aim at making victims of those responsible for this crisis, the minister said in a statement to MAP, recalling that if there is a crisis between Morocco and Spain, it is because Madrid has decided, in a sovereign way, to manoeuvre with the Kingdom’s enemies and to welcome on its territory someone who “wages war on a daily basis in Morocco”.

Spain has acted in this regard in a way that raises many questions about a respectable neighbouring state, by agreeing to enter into all these shenanigans, he continued, adding that the beginning of the crisis dates back to 17 April and that since then, Spain and its justice system have preferred to look the other way in relation to the presence on Spanish territory of someone accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of rape and serious violations of human rights, going so far as to provide him with a false identity.
Morocco-Spain: The Kingdom recalls its ambassador to Madrid, Karima Benyaich, for consultations

All the Spanish manoeuvres to divert attention from the real origins of this crisis “do not deceive anyone, in any case do not deceive and do not impress Morocco,” said the minister.

Bourita said, in this context, that the Spanish authorities “must first be transparent with their own public opinion and with their own forces,” stressing that it is not with reports and insults and media bombardment that this reality will be hidden.

“Morocco will continue to ask for clarifications and will continue to consider that this is the bottom of the crisis,” he insisted, noting that the logic of humanitarianism no longer deceives anyone.

Humanitarianism has never dictated that we go through shenanigans. Humanitarianism is not done in secret, said Bourita, who called on Spain to acknowledge and assume “its serious attitudes” and avoid “double talk”. “Morocco is not blackmailing, Morocco is clear about its positions, its actions and its attitude,” Bourita explained.

The minister condemned the “unprecedented media hostility” launched in Spain against Morocco. “We are witnessing an instrumentalisation and a mobilisation of all the media with shocking and unacceptable terms sometimes coming from high officials,” he noted. The terms used in this campaign, such as “blackmail”, “aggression” or “underdeveloped country”, show that “some circles in Spain must update their knowledge about Morocco”, he noted.

“Morocco today is not the Morocco of yesterday, Morocco does not have a problem,” the minister said. Proud of its achievements, Morocco is a country in development and Spain knows it, said Bourita, adding that it is “these reflexes of the past that are revealed today and which show this gap between Morocco in the Spanish imagination and Morocco in reality.

Some people in Spain, he said, cannot admit that the Kingdom has preserved its stability and ensured its economic progress and social development through the reforms carried out under the leadership of His Majesty the King.

“It is time to clarify all this and for Spain to define what it wants from this partnership,” Bourita said.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

Diplomatic crisis: Moroccan ambassador will not return to Madrid, warns Bourita

The Moroccan ambassador to Spain, Karima Benyaich, called by the kingdom this week for consultations, “will not return as long as the causes of the crisis persist” between Morocco and Spain, said Thursday the head of Moroccan diplomacy. Nasser Bourita, who was hosting a restricted meeting with the press, referred to the reception by Madrid of the Polisario Front Secretary General, Brahim Ghali, “in conditions unworthy of a state governed by the rule of law” and his failure to appear before the Spanish justice system, writes the Spanish agency EFE.
In this first official reaction from Morocco, the Minister of Foreign Affairs indicated that this wave was due to “a context of fatigue of the Moroccan police after the end of the Ramadan festivities” but also to “the total inaction of the Spanish police” which, according to him, is deployed at a rate of “one policeman for every hundred Moroccan agents in the border areas.
Moreover, the head of Moroccan diplomacy has repeatedly regretted “the hostile campaign” in the Spanish media, both public and private, against Morocco. “The Spanish media attack against Morocco on the basis of fake news cannot hide the real cause of the crisis, which is the reception by Madrid of the leader of the separatist militia with a false identity,” he added to MAP. He noted, in this sense, that “discussions on the weak development of the Kingdom betray old perceptions of the northern neighbour,” recalling that Morocco has achieved stable growth rates despite the crisis.
Bourita assured that “Morocco does not accept the duality of the rhetoric and positions of Madrid” which must “realise that the Morocco of today is not the one of yesterday”. “Some circles in Spain must refresh their vision of Morocco,” he said, calling on Madrid to “show transparency towards Spanish public opinion.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

For more information on Morocco’s latest official declaration, please consult (in French) the following links: here and here.

May 21, 2021

Ceuta: Moroccan journalist arrested and released on suspicion of crime

Fatima Zahra Rajmi, a journalist with the Moroccan website Chouf TV, was released late on Friday by Spanish police in Ceuta, who arrested her after she had been in the enclave for several days. She was covering the border situation, in the context of the massive arrival of several thousand people from Morocco. According to the local Spanish media El Faro de Ceuta, her arrest was ordered by the criminal court of Almeria. She was transferred to this court to be informed of the suspension of a decision against her. She was then released.

Earlier in the day, the Spanish Civil Guard arrested the journalist. According to the same media outlet, Fatima Zahra Rajmi, who has Spanish nationality, was “spreading lies” that would have angered the town’s inhabitants. The local news website added that the journalist was not arrested because of her coverage of the events, but because “she was wanted by a Spanish court on suspicion of being involved in a crime”.

The same source reported that prior to her arrest, the journalist had visited various locations in Ceuta over the past few days. She reportedly interviewed many migrants, “spread lies” and “questioned the behaviour of the Spanish security forces and their services”.

During her coverage of the events, Fatima Zahra Rajmi reportedly suggested that Spanish agents had “raped Moroccan women”. She repeatedly referred to the enclave as an occupied city, which seems to have angered local Spanish officials, ChoufTV reports. On social networks, there have been calls for her release.

In Morocco, the SNPM has taken up the cause

The National Union of the Moroccan Press (SNPM) said the arrest took place when the journalist was about to leave the enclave for Algeciras to cover a sit-in held outside the Moroccan consulate. During this operation, which was marked by a large deployment of police, according to the SNPM, Fatima Zahra Ajmi was handcuffed and taken to a police station, then placed in custody.

Although the Spanish media link her arrest to an investigation unrelated to her coverage, the SNPM maintains the opposite in its press release. In particular, it referred to the use of the term “occupied city” and its choice to focus on the abuse of migrants by the Spanish police. The union contested an “arbitrary arrest which reflects the narrowness of the colonial authorities towards anyone who denounces the serious violations and abuses committed by the security forces and elements of the Spanish army against the rights of people entering the occupied Moroccan city”.

While demanding the release of the journalist, the SNPM stressed “the lack of respect for freedom of the press and expression by these authorities and the restriction of the work of journalists, for fear of denouncing the systematic violations of the rights of people, including minors”.

Prior to the announcement of the release, the SNPM informed that it had approached the International Federation of Journalists to support the journalist’s request for release. It added that it was also preparing to contact the Spanish press unions to join the campaign.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link .

A group of Moroccan youths succeed in breaking into Melilla

A group of Moroccans made several attempts to enter Melilla on Thursday night. Elements of the Spanish Guardia Civil responded with violence against these migrants, including by throwing tear gas canisters towards the Moroccan border, a local NGO reported.

According to the Moroccan Association for Human Rights, Nador section, a dozen Moroccans managed to get into the neighbouring town of Melilla.

“Despite the security measures taken by the Moroccan and Spanish sides, dozens of Moroccans managed to enter Melilla, among them Moroccans who joined their families inside Melilla,” the NGO said in a post on its Facebook account.

It also reported clashes between Moroccan security forces and young migrants, particularly in Barrio Chino.

“A long night of attempts at the border with Melilla. Groups of Moroccans have made several attempts to cross the barrier in Mari Ouari, Farkhana, Bario Chino and Beni Ensar,” the Nador-based NGO said.

The human rights association also warned of “acts of violence by the Guardia Civil against these young people”, claiming that the Spanish forces of order used “tear gas thrown even beyond the barrier” forming the border between the two cities.

In a publication earlier in the evening, the AMDH Nador section shared testimonies of the events recorded around 1am near the Mari Ouari border post.

It “was not a serious attempt to cross the barrier to Melilla by the population of Mari Ouari,” the NGO said, noting that it was a gathering of a dozen Moroccan youths in this bordering neighborhood and that none of them jumped the barrier.

“The authorities in Melilla activated the vigilance system, which pushed the population to go out to observe what was happening on the other side of the barrier,” the AMDH added.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

Karima Benyaich: If Ghali is exfiltrated by Spain, it will cause the situation to worsen

In a statement read out on Friday 21 May at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ambassador stressed that what is happening with Ghali “is a test of the independence of Spanish justice, in which we have full confidence”, but also another test of whether Spain “opts to strengthen its relations with Morocco or prefers to collaborate with its enemies”.

For Ambassador Karima Benyaich, “Spain has unfortunately opted for opacity, acting behind Morocco’s back, welcoming and protecting this criminal and torturer, using humanitarian reasons as a pretext and thus undermining the dignity of the Moroccan people”.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

Spain: The Algerian doctor accompanying Brahim Ghali died in 2010

Four weeks after Brahim Ghali’s hospitalization in Spain, Iberian media have been interested in the Algerian doctor accompanying the Polisario leader. According to official documents presented to the administration of the San Pedro hospital in Logroño, his name is Mohamed Seghir Nekkache, who works at the military hospital in Algiers (Aïn Naaja). Disturbingly, the person in question died in 2010, according to El Independiente and El Confidencial.

Dr Nekkache, the first Health Minister of independent Algeria, was highly regarded by Algerian officials. On 1 November 2002, on the occasion of the 48th anniversary of the country’s independence, he received a certificate and the medal of merit from former health minister Abdelhamid Aberkane. In 2010, on the occasion of his death at the age of 92, former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika sent a message of condolence to the family of the deceased.

This fake doctor “Nekkache” was present on 11 May when the Spanish police presented Brahim Ghali with a new summons from the investigating judge of the National Court. The Polisario leader insisted that a copy be given to the Algerian doctor who has accompanied him since his hospitalisation in Logroño.

For more information, please consult the following link.

May 22, 2021

Death of a Moroccan in Ceuta: a Moroccan association demands an investigation

The body of a young Moroccan man who was trying to reach the Spanish enclave of Ceuta was recovered from the sea last Thursday. The Northern Observatory for Human Rights (ONDH) is calling for an investigation.

Saber Azouz, a young Moroccan man aged 20, died at sea. According to his family, “traces of blood were found on his clothes”, said the Northern Observatory for Human Rights (ONDH) in a statement published on its Facebook page, demanding “that the deliberate murder of this defenceless migrant be elucidated”. According to the association, the Spanish forces are the presumed perpetrators of this murder. In the eyes of the ONDH, Morocco is “responsible for not ensuring a decent life for its citizens” and for having “exploited migration for political ends”, reports AFP.

More than 8,000 people, including 2,700 minors, crossed the border between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta between Monday and Tuesday. More than 6,000 were deported to Morocco. A migratory crisis with an air of retaliation on the part of the Moroccan authorities. Since the emergency admission of Polisario Secretary General Brahim Ghali to a hospital in Logroño, under the assumed name of Mohamed Ben Battouche, of Algerian nationality, tensions have risen between the two countries.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

Moroccans thrown into the sea by Spanish military

Beaten and thrown into the water, several migrants who arrived in Sebta in recent days were subjected to “inhumane” treatment. A video, published on 18 May on social networks, shows Spanish soldiers violently pushing them into the sea.

In the last few days, media have reported, without providing proof, that migrants, especially minors, have been abused by Spanish soldiers. The video submitted is taken from a video report broadcast on 18 May 2021 by the local newspaper El Faro de Ceuta. The images are therefore very current and show the intervention of the army and the Spanish Civil Guard police, who are trying to control the border that thousands of migrants, mainly Moroccans, have crossed since the beginning of the week.

This type of violence and mistreatment violates human rights. Several organisations have denounced the brutality and violence with which the police have pushed the migrants back.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

May 23, 2021

Gonzalez Laya: “Before leaving Spain, Brahim Ghali must answer to legal proceedings

According to Reuters, Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said on Sunday 23 May that “the leader of the Polisario must answer to legal proceedings in Spain before leaving the country”.

“Gonzalez Laya said that when Ghali has recovered from his health problems, he should answer to a case before the Spanish High Court before returning to his own country,” the agency said.

“We promised to give this person a humanitarian response. This person was in a critical situation for his multiple health problems, including a serious case of COVID-19,” it told Spanish National Radio.

“When he recovers, he will return to his country [sic]. In the meantime, he is facing a series of legal cases and we hope that he will fulfil his obligations to Spanish justice. “

Ghali is facing a summons to appear in Spain in a case of war crimes, rape and torture. The Spanish minister’s statement constitutes, despite its shortcomings, a change in the Spanish posture. Morocco has succeeded in putting the crisis into its true context, that of the secret reception under a false identity of a man who is waging a war (in the true sense of the word) in the Kingdom, and who is the subject of serious complaints in Spain.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.