There are fears that Algeria will increase pressure on Spain through immigration

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Diplomatic relations between the two countries have been greatly strained since the sudden change of the head of the Spanish government in his position on the issue of Western Sahara. The relaxation of controls on the border between Algeria and Morocco could divert the eastern path of African migration into North Africa. The eastern route usually passes through Egypt, Libya and Tunisia to other Mediterranean countries.

Algeria accuses Morocco of ‘massacre’

Yesterday, Algeria accused, through a senior official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Morocco of committing a “massacre” during an attempt to enter Melilla about 2,000 immigrants from several African countries. Hundreds of people on the border fence, along with police brutality and a lack of medical assistance for victims for hours on end by Moroccan authorities, has killed 37 people, according to several NGOs. Moroccan authorities reduced the number to 23.

Amar Bellani, responsible for the issue of Western Sahara and the Maghreb in the Algerian Foreign Ministry, said in the Algerian media: “These tragic events show the systematic violation of human rights by a country that chose this for political purposes, blackmail and acting as a gendarme for Europe in the context of outsourcing the administration of the external borders of the European Union.

Algeria and Morocco have been at odds for decades. In March, the relationship deteriorated further after the announcement of an agreement between Pedro Sanchez and Mohammed VI regarding the sovereignty of Western Sahara. In the context of the ongoing verbal tension between the two countries, several sources in the Spanish security forces warned the newspaper “El Mundo” that Algeria has “for months” been loosening its control over the nearly 1,700-kilometer-long border that it maintains with its neighbour.

“Everyone plays their card as much as they can or want. If Algeria is angry with Spain over the Sahara issue, it is not surprising that it is using immigration with its historical rival Morocco to create groups of foreigners near Melilla.” The distance between the Algerian border and Melilla is two hours by land, according to this Spanish intelligence source.

greater porosity

Another source who says he is in close contact with the Moroccan authorities added: “Until now, Algeria has had a lock on the border with Morocco. Most of the Algerian immigrants arrived by boat. But we have now discovered a greater ability to infiltrate at the border with Morocco. Morocco. What if it was the result of an agreement between Spain And Morocco? It is undoubtedly a possibility. One indication of this is that there are more and more Sudanese. Previously, they came in small groups and preferred the Libyan route. There are now more than 500 on the other side of the border with Melilla, in addition to those that came on Friday and months ago. These people come from somewhere.It is true that Libya is dangerous, but that is not the only reason.

Sudanese

Last Friday, 133 migrants managed to reach Melilla. They have been referred to the Center for Temporary Residence for Immigrants (CETI) in the autonomous city, where they are in quarantine. A large part of them came from Sudan, a country in East Africa from which no one came to the center until a few years ago.

Now, however, the Sudanese make up the majority. Of the 325 foreigners who registered in Melilla CETI on June 21, 2022, 139 were Sudanese, according to a document seen by El Mundo newspaper. This number will be higher after the update.

Background of the conflict between Spain and Algeria

On March 18, the Spanish government admitted that it had reached an agreement with Morocco on granting autonomy to Western Sahara. This is a former Spanish colony under Moroccan sovereignty. Until then, Spain had always pushed for a referendum on self-determination. The United Nations has defended this position. Since the announcement of that agreement, relations between Madrid and Algeria have been strained, while Madrid and Rabat have returned to friendship and cooperation.

Just two weeks after the agreement was announced, on 4 April 2022, Melilla already hosted 286 Sudanese out of the 828 migrants registered at the centre. Sudan was the second country of origin after Mali (326). Now it is already the first. Sudanese citizenship is recognized by 88% of asylum applications in Spain – one of the highest levels -. Asylum seekers face persecution in their own country and risk death if returned. Last year there was a coup in Sudan.

The Moroccan Association for Human Rights in Nador condemned the preparation of 21 graves for migrants “who will be buried without an autopsy or identification.”

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