New Internationalist

Pursuing a world without migration has tragic consequences

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'Please tell us what does being a sub-Saharan mean? To not have a place in the world?' Fibonacci Blue under a Creative Commons Licence

A group of sub-Saharan migrants write an open letter to organizations and citizens around the world to protest their treatment by Moroccan authorities.

'We write as sub-Saharan immigrants currently residing in Morocco. We want to communicate our inhumane living conditions and the difficulties we have living on the border between Casiago, Morocco and Ceuta, near Spain. If today we have decided to be heard it is because for the last 6 months our tears have fallen without stopping.

In Morocco, repression from the authorities means we live continually with violence that can lead to death. It is important for us to denounce these acts to the whole world. Every day in the woods where we live, the Moroccan army comes and persecutes us with stones and batons, destroying our means of survival – tents, blankets, mattresses etc – forgetting the racist and demeaning expressions they use. The violence frequently ends with people being injured who cannot be treated in the woods and are unable to go to hospital.

On 6 February, a group of us gathered on the Moroccan side to enter Ceuta by swimming around the fence which juts out into the sea separating Morocco from Spain. When we arrived we were attacked by the Moroccan army.

Once we entered the water (a neutral zone) that separates Casiago and Ceuta, the Spanish police – better known as the Guardia Civil – started to attack us with a variety of different weapons such as rubber bullets and teargas. Officers on the rescue boats that were supposed to help us, beat us. Of the 200 people that attempted to cross the water, at least 50 of our brothers disappeared or lost their lives in front of our eyes, among them a boy of 18.

We started recording the whole scene with our mobile phones for evidence but we were caught by the Moroccan authorities, so the media have not had the footage to be able to see the reality of this story.

After all this, people across the world, please tell us what does being a sub-Saharan mean? To not have rights? To not have a place in the world?

On 13 February a day of mourning was held by the survivors of this tragedy in memory of our dear friends who disappeared that day. We turn to you so that there is justice on this earth. With eyes full of tears, please help us in any way possible. There does not exist a world without migration. A better life is possible.'

Signed by:
Keita Thierry, Cameroon
Vken Ndjoumek, Cameroon
Bekoutou Fanjou, Cameroon
Goninggay prince, Central Africa
Ngan sop Sebastien, Cameroon

Notes
Ceuta is an autonomous city of Spain that is situated off the African coast. It is separated from Morocco by a series of large fences. Just outside the border on the Moroccan side over 2,000 people are estimated to be living in makeshift camps in the woods, waiting for opportunities to enter into Ceuta. Since the start of 2014 there have been a series of attempts at entry, at least one of which led to numerous deaths. The situation of migrants living in the camps is extremely precarious and, as the letter explains, they face constant repression and violence.

Read 'Stuck in the middle' about migrants that try to reach Ceuta from sub-Saharan Africa.

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