Migrants in northern Morocco said they had been forced to sleep out in the open after repeated raids by police, who allegedly burned down their shelters in camps near the Spanish enclave Melilla.
Those camped along the border said Moroccan forces returned for a fourth day on Friday despite having already torched most of their tents.
This week’s raids began after more than 150 migrants attempted to scale the fence between Morocco and the Spanish enclave on Monday. According to Spanish authorities, 59 succeeded in their attempt to enter EU territory.
A video sent to Alarm Phone, a support group for migrants in distress while trying to cross into European countries, appears to show the charred remains of migrants’ tents and scattered belongings.
“They were burning and destroying people’s belongings, both the tent-like structures they construct but also their personal belongings. People were really cold and distressed and slept rough because they didn’t have anything else to construct with,” said an Alarm Phone researcher.
They said the repeated early morning raids had put migrants on edge, fearing they will be picked up for detention while sleeping.
They said dozens of women and children were sent to the south of the country in order to get them away from the border, while more than 100 men have been detained.
The raids “come in waves … often as a reaction when a group has entered Spain,” they said.
The Nador section of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights has repeatedly criticised authorities for arresting migrants from sub-Saharan Africa in the streets of Nador and transporting them to the southern borders, where they can be kept in detention or deported.
Earlier in March, four people died within 30 hours attempting to swim to Melilla from a nearby Moroccan port, Spanish newspaper Okdiario reported.
There are about 2,000 migrants hiding from authorities throughout the forests near Nador, according to Moroccan media, hoping to reach Europe either by jumping the fence into Melilla or by taking a boat across the Mediterranean.