20 April 2024

Spain and Morocco’s deadly immigration agreement

UPDATE: Forty victims confirmed. These figures are not final and may continue to rise. At the time of publication, 29 victims had been confirmed.

The tragic events at the border between Melilla and Nador in Morocco on 24 June 2022 are a violent reminder of the failings of security-focused migration policies. The 27 deaths and hundreds of wounded people, including migrants and Moroccan police officers, are the terrible outcome of European policy to externalise EU borders with the collusion of a country from the Global South, Morocco. The deaths of these young Africans at the gates of ‘Fortress Europe’ alert us to the deadly nature of the partnership on security and immigration between Morocco and Spain.

The conditions that paved the way for the tragedy on Friday 24 June had been brewing for several weeks. Mass detentions, raids on camps and forced displacement of migrant communities in Nador and the surrounding region foreshadowed the incident. The renewal of the agreement on migration control between Morocco and Spain in March 2022 has led to a proliferation of coordinated action between the two countries.  

This action is accompanied by human rights violations targeting migrant people in the north (Nador, Tétouan and Tangier) and in Laayoune and Dakhla. The tragic incident is the direct result of a plan to exert pressure on refugees.

For more than a year and a half, migrants in Nador have seen their access to medicine and healthcare denied, their camps set on fire, their belongings plundered, their sparse food supplies destroyed and the little drinking water available in the camps confiscated.  

These punitive operations have triggered spiralling violence on both sides. While this violence is reprehensible regardless of its source, it reminds us of the systematic violence suffered by migrant communities in Nador for years at the hands of Spanish and Moroccan law enforcement agencies. These practices have been condemned on numerous occasions by national and regional institutions and by the UN.

In response to this latest tragedy at the borders and given the large number of victims, which sadly looks set to rise, the signatories to this statement would like to express the following points:

  • We send our deepest condolences to the families of the victims from the migrant community and the police force.
  • We condemn the lack of prompt treatment for the wounded migrants, which increased the number of victims. We demand that all those hospitalised as a result of this tragedy receive appropriate, high-quality care.
  • We demand that the Moroccan authorities identify the victims and return their remains to their families by working with migrant communities.
  • We demand the immediate opening of a judicial investigation by Morocco, Spain and the international institutions to clarify the events leading up to this human tragedy.
  • We demand an end to the criminal policies funded by the European Union and its numerous accomplices, states, international institutions and civil society organisations that subcontract these criminal policies.
  • We call on the diplomatic representatives of African countries in Morocco to take full responsibility for protecting their citizens instead of remaining complicit with the policies in place.
  • We call on human rights and migrant rights organisations and movements to mobilise at this critical time, when the right to life is in greater jeopardy than ever.

25 June 2022, Rabat.

This statement is open to new signatories. Please send the name of your organisation to


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