Spain blamed for letting African migrants in

17th October 2005, Comments 0 comments

17 October 2005, BARCELONA — Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero called on France to help stem the tide of illegal immigration from sub-Saharan Africa, Spanish government sources said.

17 October 2005

BARCELONA — Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero called on France to help stem the tide of illegal immigration from sub-Saharan Africa, Spanish government sources said.

The source said Zapatero asked his visiting French counterpart Dominique de Villepin to back a Spanish proposition to organise a conference of European and African states to address the problem.

It came after the Spanish newspaper ABC reported that government sources from France and Germany blamed Spain for 25,000 allowing illegal immigrants to "cross the Pyrenees" towards their countries.

The immigration issue came to a head last month with a series of assaults by thousands of immigrants on Spanish border fencing in the north African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.

At least 14 people died in their attempt to leap over the fencing after trekking across vast swathes of Africa to northern Morocco. Zapatero and Villepin used Monday's summit talks in Barcelona to touch on immigration as they dealt with a range of cooperation issues.

Zapatero told Villepin that illegal immigration from sub-Saharan Africa was an issue which concerned the whole of Africa and Europe and one Spain and Morocco could not deal with alone.

"Europe refuses to take the African immigrants but Spain and Morocco cannot play the role of EU policeman on their own," a Zapatero spokesman said, adding it was "time to act" to solve a "humanitarian drama".

The Spanish daily ABC had earlier reported that the French and German interior ministers had complained "this week" about Spanish immigration policy, saying that "25,000 illegals from black Africa have crossed the Pyrenees in the past few months" to France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Quoting police experts, ABC said another 25,000 were still in Spain.

According to the paper, French interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy had dubbed the Spanish government the "sorcerer's apprentice" in terms of immigration while the paper quoted German counterpart Otto Schily as saying "massive (immigrant) regularisation has the knock-on effect of attracting new illegals".

ABC did not reveal when the two men were supposed to have made the remarks.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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