Spain in talks with African states over immigration
11 October 2005, RABAT — Spain, Morocco and other African countries have agreed to hold a major conference to try to tackle the problem of immigration to Europe.
11 October 2005
RABAT — Spain, Morocco and other African countries have agreed to hold a major conference to try to tackle the problem of immigration to Europe.
All the countries concerned are to attend the meeting, said Spanish foreign minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos and his Moroccan opposite number, Mohamed Benaissa.
These will include the so-called 'transit' countries and the European states, like Spain, where immigrants want to find a new life.
Both Spain and Morocco are also to meet "as soon as possible" to discuss how to deal with illegal immigration.
This meeting is to take into consideration the rights of the immigrants themselves, both sides announced.
It will also consider the fight against human traffickers.
The conference was announced following a two-day visit to the Moroccan capital by Morantinos.
It follows Spain's decision to review its policy on deporting illegal migrants from Melilla and Ceuta back to Morocco after mounting international concern.
Hundreds of migrants were dumped in the desert near the Algerian border without food or water after they were returned to Morocco at the weekend.
Morocco's authorities have begin flying hundreds of illegal West African migrants to Senegal.
The flights took off from near the Algerian border where migrants had been left after being expelled from Spanish enclaves in North Africa.
A Spanish government official in the Melilla enclave said no more deportations were planned at the moment.
Humanitarian groups had criticised Spain for sending people back.
The migrants who remain in Melilla say their treatment at the hands of the Moroccan security forces was appalling.
They have appealed to Spain not to deport anyone else back across the border.
Spain and Morocco have taken a tougher line against the migrants in the last week, after thousands of people tried to storm the high razor wire fences which surround Melilla and Ceuta.
Hundreds of migrants made it across, but at least 11 were killed.
That prompted Spain to deport some of the new arrivals back to Morocco, a move denounced by humanitarian groups.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan had urged the two governments to treat the migrant groups humanely.
The EU and UN are sending teams to Morocco amid growing concern about how the authorities are treating immigrants.
The issue presents a big dilemma for Spain, but it could also become a political problem for the Socialist government.
A new opinion poll says two thirds of Spaniards think the government is taking too soft a line on illegal immigration.
Another poll said the issue tops the list of issues which concern voters the most.
Subject Spanish news