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IMMIGRATION CRISIS

Expelled from Spanish rock, immigrants regroup in Morocco for next border bid

"They told us they were going to take us to Melilla, but they brought us back to Morocco instead”

Mónica Ceberio Belaza

The determination of the would-be immigrants expelled from Isla de Tierra, a tiny Spanish territory off the coast of Morocco, to reach Europe became plain on Wednesday. Having been dislodged from their precarious foothold on Monday night and driven by Moroccan police to the Algerian border, around 60 of the 73 sub-Saharans simply turned around on Tuesday and, under cover of darkness, made their way back to Oujda, 15 kilometers from the frontier.

“On Monday they told us they were going to take us to Melilla,” said one. “Later, a helicopter came for the children and their mothers. When we were asleep, the Civil Guard came with torches. They told us to go with them and that they were going to take us to Melilla. But then they said the sea was bad and they couldn’t take us that far, so they took us to Morocco instead.”

On arriving at the Algerian border they were told to walk into the neighboring country. But instead, they made their way to Oujda where immigrants attempting to cross Morocco congregate in an area of the university campus. Not only do they have to contend with security forces, but also the mafias. In the confines of the university, where the police will not go, they plan their next attempt to get to the Spanish border.

NGOs have criticized Spain’s handling of the crisis and noted that under Spanish law, the immigrants have the right to appeal against their expulsion. They also stated that their transportation to the border was illegal. Meanwhile, groups of people continued to try the fence at Melilla on Wednesday, with five successes.

“In Spain there is no work. In Morocco there is no work. What are we supposed to do with them? They have to go back to their countries,” said a gendarme.

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