MADRID, July 10 -- On behalf of the EU, Morocco is making it more difficult to flee across the Mediterranean to Spain. In fact, the number of refugees is decreasing. But the deal has fatal consequences for migrants, human rights activists say.
"If only we could be left, we could save much more," says Manuel Capa. The trade unionist works for the sea rescue in the Spanish city of Valencia. If Morocco or Spain embark on a new course when it comes to migration, they will feel it immediately. And he does not like the new course of the Spanish government at all. According to the law of the sea every captain must take shipwrecked persons, if he is able to do so, Capa explains. Regardless of whose sea area he is in. "So, if a shipwrecked man was in the Moroccan Maritime Rescue Zone and Morocco did not take care of him because of the lack of resources or perhaps the will, then the Moroccans allowed us to go into their waters and save the humans." That has changed. A new protocol stipulates that Morocco is solely responsible for its zone. The Spanish saviors must often be left out. Trade unionist Capa says what happens to the people who are shipwrecked in Moroccan waters is incomprehensible. It remains unclear whether they were saved and if so, where they would be taken.
Does the government accept dead?
Helena Maleno from the non-governmental organization "Caminando Froteras" goes further. She accuses the Spanish government of a cynical game:
"We're basically doing the same thing as Salvini: We're retreating, but not so obvious, of course, we can not pull out the sea rescue, but we're taking some risk with the new measures."
Spain's motto is to close this route, whatever the cost. Maleno assumes that the government will not protest because of the dead.
140 million euros in aid
The Spanish maritime rescue rejects the allegations. In the first half of the year, the number of registered deaths had dropped significantly. Currently there are 81 people who did not make it to Spain alive. Last year, at 151, it was almost twice as many. The fact is that Spain and Morocco are working together again on migration. Spain's head of state, Sánchez, has worked hard to ensure that the European Union gives Morocco more support in terms of border management. With success: the EU promised Morocco a total of 140 million euros in aid in January.
The refugees are being transported inland
And Morocco has delivered. Anyway, this is the conclusion reached by an internal paper of the EU Commission, which is available in the Spanish newspaper El País. Support for Morocco, both from Spain and from the European Commission, is the basis for the declining trend in arrivals, it says. The Moroccan government is also not overshadowing their successes: The authorities have this year so far prevented 25,000 people from reaching by sea illegally Spain, according to an official Moroccan side.
Often, however, this is done with dubious methods, says Said Tbel, migration officer of the human rights organization Association marocaine des droits humains (AMDH) in Rabat:
"Since last summer, Morocco has again resorted to methods that violate the rights of migrants."
So many migrants were picked up on the coast in northern Morocco and spent in the south. It has become increasingly difficult for people to leave Morocco for Spain. Many boats were capsized, there are now many missing and dead. The human rights activist believes that the situation will worsen in the medium term. The Moroccan Ministry of the Interior was not available for an interview at short notice.
Author: Lora Smith