Photo Credit: Aljazeera
By BABOUCARR CEESAY
At least eighteen African migrants have died while climbing a six-meter (20-foot) iron fence at the border that serves as barrier at Melilla, the Spanish North African enclave on Friday, June 24, 2022.
Several migrants and police were injured during a tussle but the Moroccan authorities termed it as a ‘stampede’ in attempts to across border fence.
Quoting local authorities, a Moroccan news agency, MAP said five migrants died, 76 injured, and up to 140 Moroccan security officers were injured, while thirteen of the injured migrants later died in the hospital, raising the death toll to 18.
According to the Moroccan Human Rights Association, up to 27 people died but the figure could still be confirmed.
The Moroccan ministry of interior said the incident occurred when people were trying to climb the long iron fence.
Spanish officials said 49 Civil Guards sustained minor injuries and 4 police vehicles damaged by rocks thrown by some migrants.
However, reports say authorities are evaluating the circumstances of migrants who successfully crossed and went to a local migrant center.
Right defenders want inquiry into deaths
Human rights organizations in Spain and Morocco called on both countries to investigate the deaths of at least 18 Africans and injuries suffered by dozens more who attempted to scale the border fence that surrounds Melilla.
Moroccan Human Rights Association shared videos on social media that showed many migrants lying on the ground motionless some profusely bleeding as Moroccan security forces stood over them.
Another videos showed a Moroccan security officer using a baton to strike a migrant lying on the ground.
Esteban Beltrán, the director of Amnesty International Spain said: “The human rights of migrants and refugees must be respected and situations like that seen cannot happen again.”
Other human rights groups in Morocco and APDHA, a human rights group based in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia all echoed the voices for inquiries.
The International Organization for Migration and U.N. refugee agency UNHCR expressed “profound sadness and concern” over the Friday incident at Morocco-Mellila border.
The organisations emphasised: “IOM and UNHCR urge all authorities to prioritize the safety of migrants and refugees, refrain from the excessive use of force and uphold their human rights.”
In their call for thorough investigation, the Moroccan right group said on Twitter: “They were left there without help for hours, which increased the number of deaths.”