Wednesday 12 October 2005 7:10 PM GMT
Alpha Oumar Konare said poverty must be tackled
The chief executive of the African Union, who lamented the
recent deaths on the Morocco-Spain border, has warned
that "walls and prisons" cannot prevent immigrants trying to
enter Europe illegally.
Alpha Oumar Konare on Wednesday said the underlying economic
and social reasons had to be tackled, to avoid a repetition
of the scenes in which African immigrants died trying to
enter the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in North
"It's not security measures, it's not prisons in Madrid and
walls in Africa that will solve the problem," said Konare
after talks with European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso
"These youths that we're seeing today defying barbed wire and
walls are not ruffians, they're not bandits," he said.
Fourteen people have died in recent months while trying to
break into the enclaves, some of them shot by Moroccan
The African leader said the underlying problems which fueled
an exodus of poor Africans had to be tackled.
"We have to have the courage to broach the problem of farm
subsidies, which weaken our economy and impoverish out rural
areas," he said, in a clear reference to the EU's long-
controversial generous farm aid system.
More immigrants repatriated
Morocco, which has come under fire for dumping hundreds of
the would-be immigrants in desert areas near the Algerian
border, flew 139 illegal immigrants to Mali on Wednesday,
government officials said, according to a Reuters report.
Rabat expects to reach a new accord with Spain to bolster its
struggle against illegal migration, they added.
"More Malian migrant groups will be flown on four similar
flights later today and on Thursday from Oujda to bring the
total number of Malians to be deported to 606," said a senior
government official, who declined to be named.
Oujda is 540km (337 miles) east of Rabat and is an entry
point for illegal migrants from Algeria.
The Moroccan government, which deported 549 Senegalese
migrants to Dakar on Monday and Tuesday, vowed to deport more
illegal sub-Sahara African migrants to their home countries.
Meanwhile, the European Union on Wednesday said thousands
more illegal migrants were heading for Spain's North African
enclaves, Reuters reported.
The EU's top immigration official said the problem of
immigrants gate-crashing Melilla and Ceuta or finding other
ways to reach Europe was enormous, and it was time to act.
"Intelligence suggests that around 20,000 immigrants are
waiting in Algeria ready to begin their journey to Morocco
and then Ceuta and Melilla with another 10,000 already
waiting in Morocco," Justice and Security Commissioner Franco
Frattini told EU ministers according to a copy of his speech
"This is a clear indication of the mounting migration
pressure on Morocco and Europe. There is no indication that
the present high migratory pressure ... will decrease in the
short term," he told justice and interior ministers of member
Frattini said the 25-nation bloc and Morocco should step up
border cooperation as well as their fight against trafficking
in people, and that the EU should help Rabat train border
Britain's Europe minister Douglas Alexander, whose country
holds the EU's rotating presidency, acknowledged that the
border deaths highlighted the problem facing Europe.
"The tragic loss of life of .... those seeking to cross the
European Union's borders illegally has sharply brought into
focus the problems we face in managing migration flows and
tackling illegal immigration," he told the European
Parliament in a debate on immigration.
The crisis at Ceuta and Melilla and the southern Italian
island of Lampedusa, which is also an arrival point for many
illegal immigrants, highlights the gap in wealth between poor
countries in sub-Saharan Africa and prosperous European