A few weeks ago I shared the spring plans
of Youssef and Fabrice, young Camerounian emigrants, that they would wait for the cover of entertainment before trying their luck during the final rounds of the World Cup Championship. Their goal? To try to cross into Melilia, the enclave on Morocco’s Mediterranean coast "occupied" by Spain.
Sure enough, according the Tangier weekly Le Courrier du Nord
, last Monday a group of around 70 sub-Saharan Africans stormed a section of Spain’s billion-dollar "border fence," a series of tilted 20-foot wire walls topped with razor wire and equipped with electronic sensors and guard towers. Border guards opened fire on the unarmed group. Two were killed.
One of those killed died en route to a Moroccan hospital. The other one actually made it to Spain--his body is undergoing an autopsy by Spanish police. The presumed cause of death being "gunshot wound," it’s very unlikely that Spanish border guards were responsible for the killings, since they don’t carry firearms. No names were released, and we may never know who the victims were or where they came from.
This was the first mass attempt on Melilia since October 2005, when six men were killed after Moroccan border guards opened fire on another group of around 100 unarmed sub-Saharan Africans trying to make it across the fence.
As a result, we have the curious situation whereby the Moroccan authorities are keeping nationals of several foreign countries from trying to leave Morocco and enter into another foreign country, and specifically a section of that foreign country’s territory that Morocco unofficially claims.
Moreover, that foreign country has already built massive military- (or prison!)-style fortifications between its frontier and Morocco’s, not exactly a friendly overture.
Finally, the Moroccan authorities appear willing to use deadly force against these foreign nationals, even though the border guards are under no immediate threat from the unarmed would-be emigrants, who are running away from them and from Moroccan territory.
All the while, the Spanish authorities (and all Europeans) are able to sit back and protest that their border guards aren’t even armed, so they can scarcely be held responsible for the killings.