Hundreds of migrants are trying to get from Morocco to the Spanish exclave of Melilla. At least 23 people died and others were injured. The events triggered outrage and sharp criticism.

After the death of at least 23 people when thousands of migrants rushed to the Spanish exclave of Melilla in Morocco, human rights activists have made serious allegations against the security forces.

The Moroccan authorities had used “unjustified violence” and “abused” migrants, said the head of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) in the city of Nador, Amin Abidar, on Saturday of the German Press Agency. People were left trapped on the ground for hours without medical help. According to the organization, several migrants died as a result.

Praise from Spain’s Prime Minister Sánchez

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, on the other hand, blamed the “human trafficking mafia”. “It was a violent attack organized by the human trafficking mafia,” said the socialist politician in Madrid. Sánchez praised Morocco’s security forces for repelling an attack “on the territorial integrity of the country (Spain)”.

Up to 2,000 people tried to climb the border fence between Morocco and Melilla on Friday. According to a report by Moroccan state television, 23 people were killed. The state agency MAP had previously reported that 18 migrants died in the crowd or fell off the fence. AMDH, on the other hand, spoke of 27 deaths. According to the Moroccan authorities, the migrants come from sub-Saharan Africa.

crammed into a small space

ADMH circulated videos showing dozens of migrants huddled together on the ground surrounded by security forces. A man is taken away with blood on his head. A recording shows a man in uniform hitting a man lying on the ground with a baton. The recordings were made by activists and sympathizers, Abidar explained.

According to MAP, dozens of other migrants and 140 security forces were injured. The Moroccan Interior Ministry accused the migrants of having used violence themselves. Spanish media reported that 133 migrants managed to get over the fence into Spanish territory. Morocco became independent from France and Spain in 1956. Nevertheless, Spain continues to hold two exclaves there: Melilla and Ceuta, 250 kilometers further west on the Strait of Gibraltar. Nearby, tens of thousands of Africans, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, are often waiting for a chance, a chance to get into the EU.