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No accountability for African migrants’ dehumanisation on Europe’s doorstep

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Picture: Reuters African would-be immigrants sit near the border fence between Israel and Egypt near the Israeli village of Be’er Milcha.

By Olga Borodkina

Dozens of Africans trying to cross the border between Morocco and Europe died this summer. The United Nations (UN) claims that Spanish and Moroccan law enforcement agencies are guilty of excessive use of force.

UN experts have condemned the lack of accountability for the deaths of dozens of African migrants, including refugees and asylum seekers, killed by border security forces in Spain in June.

“The violence documented in videos of the scenes at Melilla’s gate tragically reveals the status quo of the European Union’s(EU’s) borders – racialised exclusion and deadly violence … The lack of meaningful accountability for the June 24 deaths and injuries makes it difficult to conclude otherwise,” said Tendayi Achiume, along with the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent and the special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

Moreover, Achiume argues that Europeans are ready to sacrifice the lives of Africans in their own interests.

Picture: Darko Bandic/AP Rescuers transfer African migrants to a rescue boat during a rescue operation from the Aquarius vessel of SOS Mediterranee NGO and MSF (Doctors Without Borders) in the sea some 25 Nautical miles (29 miles, 46 kilometres) north of the Libyan coast.

“The events in Melilla, as well as the many other incidences of border violence and death, point to a willingness to sacrifice the lives of African and other migrants and refugees to secure the perimeter of Europe,” she pointed out.

On July 13, 2022, UN experts sent messages to the governments of Spain and Morocco expressing their concern about the events of June 24, in which at least 37 of 2,000 people attempting to cross the border between Morocco and Spain were shot dead.

The migrants tried to cross the border by climbing over the 6-10 meter fences surrounding Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North Africa.

Pictures: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA) Children refugees partake in a peaceful protest on International Migrants Day.

While the UN has claimed that the deaths are due to the excessive use of force by Moroccan and Spanish law enforcement, Morocco and Spain have denied the accusation.

Moroccan authorities say the main causes of the deaths are a stampede of the migrants trying to break through a particularly narrow gate at the border crossing and migrants falling off high fences.

Morocco has prosecuted 65 migrants involved in a deadly incident in Melilla on charges of starting fires, attacking security forces, and facilitating illegal border crossings.

Olga Borodkina is a Moscow-based Sputnik correspondent specialising in foreign affairs, social issues and African studies.

This article was first published in Sputnik