African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki has called for an immediate investigation into the at the “violent and degrading treatment” of African migrants attempting to cross an international border from Morocco into Spain.
In a statement on Sunday, Faki expressed deep shock and concern with the violence that led to the deaths of at least 23 people and injuries to many more.
“… I remind all countries of their obligations under international law to treat all migrants with dignity and to prioritize their safety and human rights, while refraining from the use of excessive force,” Faki said.
Morocco’s interior ministry confirmed in a statement that 23 people died on Friday due to what it described as a “stampede” after about 2,000 refugees and migrants tried to climb the metal border fence.
The Moroccan authorities said that 140 police officers were also wounded in the violence.
This is the highest death toll in years of such attempts to cross the frontier at Melilla, a common crossing point for refugees and migrants seeking a better life in Europe.
Photos and videos on social media showed bodies lying down as police officers assaulted other immigrants with kicks and whips.
Dr. Roselyn Akombe, the Governance and Peacebuilding Regional Coordinator at UNDP’s Regional Service Centre for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said on Twitter that the “Melilla Massacre” is a stain on the conscience of all who preach global solidarity and human rights but are silent in the face of atrocities against Black men.
“Those who lecture us on values yet deny us the decency to be human beings,” Akombe added.