Europe

UN ‘disturbed’ by deaths of 23 migrants at Morocco-Spain border

‘We are also deeply disturbed by reports that at least 46 bodies of migrants found in abandoned truck in Texas,’ says UN rights office

Peter Kenny   | 28.06.2022
UN ‘disturbed’ by deaths of 23 migrants at Morocco-Spain border

GENEVA

The UN Human Rights Office on Tuesday said that it is "deeply disturbed" by the deaths of at least 23 African migrants trying to cross from Morocco into Spanish territory and also by reports that at least 46 bodies of migrants had been found in an abandoned truck in San Antonio, Texas.

"This is the highest recorded number of deaths in a single incident over many years of migrants attempting to cross from Morocco to Europe via the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta," Ravina Shamdasan, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said at a UN press conference.

The two lethal tragedies illustrate the obstacles and dangers migrants face on two continents far removed from each other.

The rights office called Spain and Morocco to ensure an effective and independent investigation is held as a first step towards establishing the circumstances of the deaths and injuries and ensuring accountability.

"In an equally distressing development, we are also deeply disturbed by reports that at least 46 bodies of migrants have been found in an abandoned truck in San Antonio, Texas, in the US, presumably after having crossed the border.

"This is not the first such tragedy, and it illustrates again the critical need for regular safe pathways for migration as well as for accountability for those persons whose conduct has directly led to such loss of life."

On the African deaths, the Human Rights Office said that it had received reports of migrants beaten with “batons, kicked, shoved, and attacked with stones by Moroccan officials.”

The migrants were beaten as they tried to scale the barbed-wire fence separating Morocco from Melilla.

Melilla is one of two autonomous cities of Spain, located in North Africa, in an area bordering Morocco and facing the Mediterranean Sea.

"We call on Morocco and Spain to ensure respect for the human rights of migrants at their joint border and, in particular, that their border officers refrain from any use of excessive force against migrants," said Shamdasani.

"We also call on them to take all necessary steps alongside the European Union, the African Union, and other relevant international and regional actors - to ensure human rights-based border governance measures are in place."

The UN spokesperson said that the measures include access to safe migration pathways, access to individualized assessments, protection from collective expulsions and refoulement, and arbitrary arrest and detention.

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