United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Monday that the rush of migrants into the Spanish enclaves in northern Morocco was a very serious situation and that countries must manage immigration fairly, with respect for the rights of migrants. In recent weeks, the Spanish enclaves on the northern Moroccan coast have been rushed by hundreds of Africans who stormed razor-wire border fences. At least 14 have been killed.
Morocco has been criticized for its handling of the waves of immigrants, and for dropping off illegal immigrants at the country's desert border with Algeria - practice that provoked criticism from humanitarian groups, who pointed out that they had no shelter, food or water there, the AP reports.
Mohammed Ibrahimi, a top Moroccan government official for the Oujda region, said the crisis requires an international response.
Annan said it was "necessary is to manage the (immigration) process, manage it fairly and equitably in the interest of all, in the interest of the countries of origin, transit country and the recipient country and above all respect the rights of the migrant or those on the move."
He said that although some criminal elements used migration to their advantage, be it for human or drug trafficking, "should not ... brush aside people who have legitimate asylum claims." AM