Saturday, October 08, 2005

Annan decries plight of Melilla migrants

Annan decries plight of Melilla migrants

Melilla, Spain: A leading aid group on Friday decried the apparent abandoning of some 500 immigrants in the Moroccan desert after trying to reach Spanish soil as UN Secretary General Kofi Annan expressed deep concern about their plight.
Spain began expelling illegal immigrants a day after six immigrants died trying to scale border fences to reach the Spanish north African enclave of Melilla, taking the death toll from recent such attempts to 14.
At UN headquarters, a spokesman for Annan said the chief was "deeply concerned" with the situation and urged concerned governments to deal with the issue humanely.
African migrants in Melilla said on Friday they feared for their lives if Madrid sent them back to Morocco under a plan to end attempts by hundreds to storm borders into Spanish territory.
Many people have been killed in the last 10 days as large groups of migrants tried to get into Europe by crossing the razor wire fences around Melilla and its sister outpost, Ceuta.
In a radical change of policy, Spain sent 70 migrants back to its neighbour late Thursday after it reactivated a 1992 accord with Rabat to allow it to send back sub-Saharan African migrants who have entered Spain via Morocco.
Spain's decision to return some migrants was criticised by human rights groups, particularly after the humanitarian organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres said it had found 500 African migrants dumped deep in the desert by Moroccan police.
Morocco's Communications Minister and government spokesman Nabil Benabdellah defended Morocco's record, telling the MAP news agency that Rabat "respects human dignity and international rules on illegal immigration".


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