Rabat, Madrid urge immigration talks

Morocco and Spain have called for an EU-African conference bringing together countries affected by immigration, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos has said on a visit to Rabat.

    Morocco is deporting hundreds of would-be immigrants

    The conference would bring together countries "of origin, transit or destination" of illegal immigrants, said Moratinos on Tuesday after a lightning visit to Rabat for talks.

    The trip to Rabat comes after repeated attempts by sub-Saharan African immigrants to storm Spain's North African enclaves.
    Rabat and Madrid agreed to set up an "ad-hoc mixed interministerial committee" to "provide adequate and durable solutions to problems of illegal emigration in its differing aspects".
    The African Union joined the call for a dialogue between the European Union and Africa. 

    West Africans' plight
    "What is happening in Spain and Morocco at the moment, with immigrants dying and being thrown into the sea, indicates that only a dialogue between Europe and Africa can resolve the problem.

    It's the only solution to resolve this shameful spectacle," AU spokesman Adam Thiam said from Addis Ababa.   

    "Only a dialogue between Europe and Africa can resolve the problem


    Adam Thiam,
    AU spokesman

    Earlier in Geneva, the United Nations refugee agency urged countries not to repatriate immigrants forcibly and sent experts to Morocco to examine the plight of hundreds of West Africans there who were trying to reach Europe.

    "Within large migration flows like this one, there are often people who are fleeing conflict and persecution and who deserve access to proper asylum procedures," UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond told journalists.
    Moratinos said the agreement marked a "qualitative jump in the integration of actions and policies" regarding illegal immigration.
    "If we do not come up with a much more ambitious policy at regional level... Spain and Morocco, on their own, will find it difficult to take on a task of such magnitude and obtain results," Moratinos added. 

    Hundreds of would-be immigrants, many of them from Mali and Senegal and others from Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Nigeria and other sub-Saharan states, face repatriation from Morocco. 

    A plane carrying 140 Senegalese
    arrived in Dakar 

    A plane carrying 140 Senegalese left Morocco on Tuesday for Dakar, adding to two planeloads on Monday, and another was due to follow, Senegal's ambassador Ibou Ndyae told AFP, adding that two more would follow on Wednesday.
    Of 600 Malians in the Moroccan border city of Oujda, about 400 were set to leave for Bamako later on Tuesday on a Boeing 747 with the remainder to follow on Wednesday.
    The Malian government called on the International Organisation of Migration (OIM) to help it with the repatriation process.
    "We are putting in place the operational repatriation phase and things are advancing," OIM spokesman Siaka Malle said in Bamako. 



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