Morocco cracks down on migrants heading to Spain

In this Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018 photo, sub-Saharan migrants aiming to cross to Europe take shelter in a forest overlooking the neighborhood of Masnana, on the outskirts of Tangier, Morocco.(AP)
Updated 18 September 2018

Morocco cracks down on migrants heading to Spain

TANGIERS: Hundreds of sub-Saharan migrants escaping poverty and violence in their home countries are fleeing to forests to escape police raids in the northern Moroccan port city of Tangiers — only to be chased from their makeshift camps.
Migrants have been arriving in Morocco in increasing numbers in a bid to get to Spain via the Strait of Gibraltar. A prime route from Libya to Italy is being choked, notably by the Libyan coast guard intercepting smugglers’ boats.
Rights activists in this North African kingdom say the crackdown on migrants is the biggest since 2015.
Many of those arriving in Tangiers, one of several Moroccan jump-off points to Spain, say they escaped into the forest after police smashed doors of their small shared rooms in Tangiers and took money they were making to pay smugglers.
Now, migrants say they aren’t safe in the nearby forest where they claim there are more raids, with police seizing their belongings, burning camps and forcing them onto buses to head to points in southern Morocco — further away from the northern border.
Those who escaped the raids in town and in the forest say they have nowhere left to hide.
If they return to the city, “They (authorities) ask residents to hand us over if we go asking for water,” said Skey Mansare, a migrant from Cameroon.
A Morocco government spokesman, Mustapha El Khalfi, said the country can no longer let its territory shelter human trafficking networks and refuses to play the role of gendarme of the region. Authorities say Morocco prevented 65,000 migrants from crossing to Spain in 2017.

Jumblatt expresses concern over torture of Syrian refugees

Syrian children are pictured at a refugee camp in the village of Mhammara in the northern Lebanese Akkar region on March 9, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 18 March 2019

Jumblatt expresses concern over torture of Syrian refugees

  • Walid Jumblatt has expressed concern about Syrian refugees returning to their country from Lebanon
  • Jan Kubis: “The UN and the humanitarian community will continue to facilitate these returns as much as possible

BEIRUT: Lebanese Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt has expressed concern about reports that Syrian refugees returning to their country from Lebanon face torture and murder.

This coincides with a debate in Lebanon about whether Syrian refugees should return without waiting for a political solution to the conflict in their country. 

UN Special Coordinator Jan Kubis stressed after meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Monday the “urgent need to ensure the safe, voluntary and dignified return of Syrian refugees home, according to international humanitarian norms.” 

Kubis added: “The UN and the humanitarian community will continue to facilitate these returns as much as possible. Another very important message was also to support the host communities here in Lebanon.”

Mireille Girard, representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), on Monday said: “The reconstruction process in Syria may not be enough to attract refugees to return. We are working to identify the reasons that will help them to return.”

She added: “The arrival of aid to the refugees is an element of trust that helps them to return. Their dignity and peaceful living must be ensured.”

Social Affairs Minister Richard Kouyoumdjian said the Lebanese General Security “issued lists containing the names of refugees wishing to return to their homes, but the Syrian regime accepted only about 20 percent of them.”

He added: “The solution is to call on the international community to put pressure on Russia, so that Moscow can exert pressure on (Syrian President) Bashar Assad’s regime to show goodwill and invite Syrian refugees to return to their land without conditions, procedures, obstacles and laws that steal property and land from them.”

Lebanese Education Minister Akram Chehayeb said: “The problem is not reconstruction and infrastructure, nor the economic and social situation. The main obstacle is the climate of fear and injustice in Syria.”

He added: “There are 215,000 Syrian students enrolled in public education in Lebanon, 60,000 in private education, and there are informal education programs for those who have not yet attended school to accommodate all children under the age of 18.” 

Chehayeb said: “As long as the displacement crisis continues, and as long as the (Assad) regime’s decision to prevent the (refugees’) return stands … work must continue to absorb the children of displaced Syrians who are outside education to protect Lebanon today and Syria in the future.”