By Karima Rhanem Morocco TIMES 10/18/2005 | 10:05 am GMT
Thousands of African illegal migrants live in a shanty town overlooked by the Algerian security services near the city of Maghnia, west Algeria, where they illicitly prepare to cross the Morocco-Algerian borders, said on Sunday the French speaking magazine Jeune Afrique / L'intelligent.
The illegal migrants gather in the town before entering the Moroccan territory and attempting to set foot in Sebta and Melilla, the Spanish enclaves in north Morocco.
The Algerian authorities tolerate the migrants' gathering because they know that the Africans “have no intention to re-start their lives” in Algeria, noted the magazine.
“It goes without saying that the strained relations between the two neighbour countries do not encourage Algeria to overdo it,” it added.
The weekly said the would-be migrants return to Maghnia after three, five, or ten failing attempts to cross into Spain. They stay in the city to recuperate their strength and gather some money, before engaging into the same experience again.
To earn money and meet their own needs in the Algerian city, the migrants “work as daily workers in the region's farms and orchards, for 500 dinars (5 ¤) a day,” added Jeune Afrique / L'intelligent .
“Overwhelmed, sometimes caught by panic in front of the necessity to face desperate migrants, who don't hesitate to defend themselves with stones, knives, and even their teeth, Moroccan and Spanish security services” were obliged to react against the waves of illegal migrants, said the weekly.
“Today, Morocco is in an unbearable position. The European Union, which until now did not see the problem as a priority, barricades itself behind militarized frontiers.”
In 2002, Spain had started using “an integrated system of exterior vigilance made up of 25 detection stations, 12 mobile radars and a dozen patrols” to curb the continuous flow of the Saharans.
“But nothing, or very little, was done by the EU to help Morocco bring down the presence, on its soil, of tens of thousands of Sub-Saharan illegal migrants” aiming to transit in the direction of Spain, said the weekly.
A 40 million ¤ emergency aid has been blocked for six years in Brussels, the magazine noted, deploring Europe's tendency to “externalise” the crisis and throw too much responsibility on Morocco.
Six years ago, the EU announced that it would grant Morocco 40 million euros to help it fight illegal immigration; an amount that Morocco never received.
“Alone, Morocco, which already has its own troubles to tackle, can do nothing to face the phenomenon”, noted the magazine.
Morocco has called on both Europe and Algeria to assume their share of the responsibility to combat the problem of illegal migration.