African migrants are fighting Morocco’s campaign trying to keep them away from land and sea crossings to Spain, which have turned into the key entry points to Europe. Moroccan authorities raid the popular areas and have prevented thousands from entering the Spanish enclaves. The techniques used by Moroccan police have been criticized by human rights organizations. Many people are hiding in the forests or back streets, planning to escape to Spain.
“We came to Morocco to stay in the north until the time was right to force our way through the Ceuta fence. We have no other choice,” said Aboubakar, a 25-year-old Guinean sociology graduate. Aboubakar’s account and accounts of many other migrants speak to the difficulty of stopping people determined to get to Europe. The number of people fleeing conflicts and wars across the Middle East, Africa and Asia has declined to about 80,000 annually from more than a million 2015. Yet, the issue remains divisive within the EU and has bolstered far-right sentiments.
Pressure on Spain is partly a result of Italy closing the door to most asylum-seekers. So far this year, almost 29,000 people have followed the Spanish route. Most of them come via Morocco, which has foiled about 54,000 migration attempts. “We received tip-offs that trafficking networks were emboldened after the July crossing into Ceuta and were preparing large-scale assaults on security forces at the border this summer,” Khalid Zerouali, migration and border control director at the Interior ministry said. Morocco itself is migrant destination. The North African country has granted 56,000 residency permits to people from sub-Saharan Africa since it revamped its migration policy in 2013.