Moroccan maritime police stopped hundreds of Moroccans on Martil beach trying to leave for Europe, some protested to demand the right to migrate.
When a migrant boat approached a beach in Martil, a town on the Mediterranean near Tetouan, on Saturday night, September 22, to pick up undocumented migrants hoping to leave for Europe, maritime police made a surprise appearance.
A video of the incident shows migrants franticly making their way back to the shore to escape the authorities.
Disappointed, many Moroccans wishing to migrate protested that night, chanting the slogan: “The people want free herga [irregular migration]!”
Morocco has become strict with undocumented migration, especially in northern regions.
Authorities in northern cities have deployed security barriers to stop irregular Moroccan migrants from leaving for Europe.
According to a statement from Morocco’s National Observatory for Human Rights (ONDH) on Monday, security services in Tangier and other northern cities and towns like Martil have arrested young Moroccans and sub-Saharans trying to escape to Europe.
Authorities transported the migrants back to their home cities under strict supervision.
“Hundreds of young people in Martil flood to the town’s shores with the hope of migrating irregularly across the Mediterranean,” ONDH emphasized.
Government Spokesperson Mustapha El Khalfi has said that “at the end of August 2018, 54,000 attempts of emigration were aborted in Morocco [compared to] 39,000 during the same period of 2017.”
Moroccans account for 13 percent of undocumented migrants who attempted to reach Europe in 2018 (7,100 Moroccans).
The Spanish Ministry of Interior indicated that more than 250,000 undocumented Moroccans are currently living in Spain, with close to 5,000 identified as “unaccompanied minors.”