Moroccan activist Hicham Baraka today accused the EU of putting pressure on North African countries, such as Morocco, to control Europe’s borders in a kind of “subcontracting regime”. For Hicham Baraka, president of the Beni Znassen association for Culture, Development and Solidarity (ABCDS), based in Oujada, Morocco, the EU’s immigration policy has “aggravated the violation of human rights suffered by sub-Saharan ‘trapped’ immigrants. in Morocco and Algeria, and who are trying to reach Europe”.
“Europe exerts pressure on Morocco, which, in order to satisfy these demands and demonstrate its goodwill, plays the role of ‘subcontracted border guard’ with a real hunt for sub-Saharan immigrants”, denounced the official.
For Hicham Baraka, who was speaking in Lisbon, at the headquarters of Associação Solidariedade Imigrante – SOLIM, the “subcontracting” of countries like Morocco aims to “mask the responsibilities” of the EU regarding the consequences of “closing and militarization of community borders”, which result from a “wrong and inhumane” immigration policy.
The official – who has been investigating the death of 28 immigrants in Moroccan waters, after a pneumatic vessel where they were following was allegedly punctured by the Moroccan Navy recently – denounced that in cities such as Rabat, Casablanca, Nador or Laayoune the police are carrying out “ systematic detentions” of sub-Saharans without making “any distinction between holders of documents or those without papers”.
After being detained, explained Hicham Baraka, the migrants are transferred to the eastern city of Oujda – the city closest to the Algerian border – from where they are transported to the Algerian border and subsequently expelled.
“After being removed, the immigrants are once again expelled by the Algerian authorities and forced to return to Oujda. This is a real ‘human ping-pong’ between Morocco and Algeria”, he lamented, considering that the EU is “heavily responsible for this situation”.
According to ABCDS estimates, the number of immigrants in this situation “is between 1,000 and 1,200”, with the majority from Nigeria (40 percent), followed by immigrants from Cameroon (20.5), Mali ( 11 percent) Senegal (9.2 percent), Ghana (7.8), the Democratic Republic of Congo (6), The Gambia (2.5 percent) and Ivory Coast (1.8 percent).
Hicham Baraka explained that the situation of these migrants is “increasingly difficult and their living conditions are at the limit of what is bearable”, stressing that the security treatment of migratory flows “will never solve the problem”.
Hicham Baraka’s opinion is shared by Timóteo Macedo, Portuguese leader of Immigrant Solidarity, who said that the situation in Morocco, Algeria or Libya is due to “a European policy that closes off the possibility for immigrants to move freely and move legally to the EU”. ”.
“The creation of legal channels for immigration, circular migration or the development of countries of origin and transit, so talked about during the Portuguese presidency of the EU, where are they? These are all unfulfilled promises.”
For Timóteo Macedo, at a time when “several shameful proposals” on immigration are being discussed at European level, Portugal has an “increased responsibility” and must “clearly” position itself and protect the “guaranteeing values it claims to defend”.
“We do not accept that the Portuguese Government agrees with inhumane proposals that bring nothing good to immigrants in the EU and Portugal”, he stressed, referring to the agreement on the Return Directive (which will be discussed in the European Parliament) and the European Pact. on Immigration that France will try to impose on the European agenda when it assumes the presidency of the Council of 27 in July.
Hicham Baraka recalled that sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco are “persecuted everywhere” and forced to “take refuge in forests, outlying regions or deserted places where minimal conditions exist”, stressing that with the current weather conditions migrants “are in danger, including at risk of death”.
In her speech, Eugénia Costa Quaresma, from the Portuguese Catholic Work for Migrations, considered the persecution of people who only seek a better life as a “very great inhumanity”, recalling that these people immigrate “in search of the basics” and that “granting them the basic is not a gesture of charity, but of justice”.
In turn, Cátia Sá Guerreiro, from the International Department of AMI, assured that the organization is “open to all talks with the Moroccan association” to support the immigrants in question.