By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 10/16/2005 | 4:29 pm
The Moroccan Government vigorously denounced the Polisario and Algeria's exploitation of the migration crisis in north Morocco for political and propaganda ends, said Morocco's Premier Driss Jettou in a statement on Sunday.
The Prime Minister, Driss Jettou, said that “at a time when Morocco fulfils its obligations and is stepping up efforts to address the massive inflow of clandestine migrants coming in their majority from the Algerian borders, the Government of HM the King deplores that Algeria doesn't shoulder her responsibilities concerning the transit through her territory."
He added that the neighbouring country is also "trying to manipulate this situation by gathering in the region of Tindouf candidates to illegal migration to use them as a propaganda tool in the Sahara conflict.”
Jettou went on: “Algeria's opportunistic attempts to exploit this humanitarian tragedy will not undermine Morocco's bilateral and multilateral efforts to curb this migratory influx.”
He insisted that it is “out of the question to let the enemies of Morocco's territorial integrity take advantage of the misery and the distress of these human beings in search of a better life in Europe; nor will Morocco allow this type of action to harm its lofty interests particularly those related to its territorial integrity."
Morocco has been facing, for years now, a growing pressure of the migratory influx bound for Europe and transiting mainly from Algeria. Morocco's efforts have made it possible to reach significant results recognized at the regional and international levels.
Following the regrettable incidents that occurred late September in the north of Morocco, and given the importance of the phenomenon that Morocco continues to face, repatriation operations by air have been organised in close cooperation with concerned brotherly countries.
Morocco flew on Sunday 144 Sub-Saharan illegal migrants from Mali (80), Gambia (60), and Senegal (4) to their countries of origin.
Moroccan authorities also flew other 435 illegal migrants home on Saturday, starting a second wave of mass deportations of sub-Saharan Africans who have tried to get to Europe, forcing their way into the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in northern Morocco.
MAP news agency has reported that the total number of the clandestine sub-Saharan migrants, deported back to their countries through Guelmim airport (about 500 miles south of Morocco's capital, Rabat) increased to 724, including 370 from Mali, 294 from Senegal and 60 from Gambia.
Nearly 1,600 migrants were sent home in the first wave, including many who tried to reach the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta but were pushed back from barbed wire fences.
On Sept. 29, five migrants were shot dead while trying to get into Ceuta, and six more died in clashes with Moroccan security forces at the Melilla border.
Morocco has been criticised for its handling of the latest stampedes led by the would-be migrants on the country's northern coasts, as many international NGOs laid the blame for the deteriorating situation on the Moroccan authorities.
Answering the international community's increasing criticism, the Moroccan authorities rap some Spanish NGOs and political groups for “politicising the tragic events” taking place along the fences that cordon off the two enclaves from the rest of Morocco.
In the past, the Moroccan government was criticised for not taking enough measures to stem the flow of African migrants to Europe. But now the Kingdom is berated for sending troops to the borders and responding to the migrants' stampedes “violently". The government defended its use of force in restraining the huge numbers of migrants from crossing into Sebta and Melilla.
The government's spokesperson, Nabil Benabdellah, told the press last week “it is almost impossible to combat this phenomenon without causing humanitarian problems”. He added that the Moroccan authorities can't take up this responsibility on its own shoulders alone.
The Paris-based weekly 'Jeune Afrique/l'intelligent' reported on Sunday that Algerian security services tolerate the existence of thousands of sub-Saharan migrants, who stay in a village-shantytown close to the town of Maghnia, preparing to cross the borders to reach Europe.
Morocco accuses neighbouring Algeria of throwing the door wide open for sub-Saharan migrants, allowing them to cross into the Moroccan territory without any surveillance.
“Algeria is also responsible for this situation, and it does not want to assume its part of the responsibility,” said the governmen's spokesperson on Thursday.
The government also reiterated that European countries are under an obligation to exert more serious efforts if they are to reach a practical solution to curb the flow of African migration.
The EU Commissioner for Freedom, Security and Justice, Franco Frattini, stated on Wednesday that "intelligence sources say that 20,000 illegal migrants are in Algiers, waiting to start their trek towards Morocco and the two Spanish enclaves. Another 10,000 are already waiting in Morocco."
"There is a mounting migration pressure on Morocco and Europe (and) there is no indication that the present high migratory pressure ... will decrease in the short term," he underlined.
After a visit to Ceuta and Melilla, the EU technical commission highlighted the need to “react as soon as possible” to help Spain and mainly Morocco to fight a “severe migratory pressure.”
Among these measures, the EU will help Morocco and Spain form joint “border-guards and exchange the best measures to fight smuggling in human beings."