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At least 23 African asylum-seekers died in a mass attempt to cross the border between Morocco and the Spanish protectorate of Melilla on Friday. Hundreds of people, including at least 76 migrants, and about 200 border guards, including Spanish Moroccan officers. The incident marks the first major border crossing attempt since Spain and Morocco restored their diplomatic relations in March.
Melilla and Ceuta — two Spanish enclaves in Morocco, which constitute the only land border between Africa and Europe. Therefore, African refugees from all over the continent, and especially from the sub-Saharan region, constantly try to cross these borders in search of asylum in the European Union.
According to Moroccan media reports, the death toll rose to 23 on Saturday evening, all of them Africans seeking asylum. According to reports, about 130 migrants have successfully crossed into Spain.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a statement that the attempted mass crossing was organized by “human trafficking mafias” and called it ”
Mohamed Amin Abidar, president of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) in Nador, a Moroccan city bordering Melilla, said his organization does not consider Spain's move legitimate , “because they do not respect the international human rights and migrants' rights conventions that allow asylum claims.”
30 migrants were detained during the incident and will face trial. Their interests in court will be protected by AMDH lawyers.
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