At least 37 migrants died trying to cross from Morocco to Melilla

At least 37 migrants died and hundreds were injured in a massive attempt to cross from Morocco to the autonomous Spanish city of Melilla, which is in North Africa. The attempt to cross the fence that separates Moroccan territory and Melilla began around 6 am on Friday (24), when about 2,000 people of sub-Saharan origin began to approach the border and were faced with a wide security scheme set up by Morocco.

Despite the efforts of the agents, two hours later, about 500 sub-Saharans managed to reach the border fence and broke through an access gate with sticks, stones and bladed weapons. According to the government of the Spanish autonomous city, 133 of them managed to enter Melilla.

According to the Moroccan Association of Human Rights, they were 27 dead, while the NGO Caminhando Fronteiras talks about 37. “The numbers are not definitive and may continue to increase”, wrote on Twitter the president of Caminhando Fronteiras, Helena Maleno, without detailing the source of the information.

In the first bulletin on the case, which spoke in five dead migrants, Moroccan authorities said they had been trampled or fallen from a wall. Moroccan security sources indicated that some of those injured in the clashes, during an attempted forced passage, were treated because of problems related to the inhalation of tear gas.

On the Spanish side, according to the authorities, were 106 injured people, specifically 49 Civil Guard officers and 57 immigrants, three of whom had to be taken to a hospital .

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) highlighted on Saturday (25) , the need to prioritize the safety of people. The agencies called on the international community to expand access to safe alternatives to avoid dangerous attempts at passage and the risk of a repeat of tragedies. “These facts reinforce more than ever the importance of finding lasting solutions for displaced people,” the two organizations said in a joint statement.

The bishops responsible for the Subcommittee on Migration and Human Mobility of the Spanish Episcopal Conference (EEC) regretted what had happened and asked the competent authorities to work to clarify the case.

“We need an orderly migration through legal and safe channels, as well as cooperation for development with countries suffering from war, conflict and famine. The externalization and militarization of borders alone will not end the problems and root causes of the mobility of millions of migrants, refugees and displaced persons around the world”, said the bishops , in a statement published on Saturday and reproduced by the Vatican News portal.

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