EU justice ministers to help Morocco deal with flood of poor Africans

EU justice ministers on Wednesday will explore ways to better seal their border to economic migrants and help Morocco deal with a flood of poor Africans who try to get into the EU through two razor-fenced Spanish enclaves.

The 25 ministers will be briefed about a weekend mission to Morocco and the enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta following the deaths 11 Africans and widespread attempts to force a way into EU territory over the past weeks. Later, they will discuss the issue with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Gutteres.

They will also be faced with increasing criticism of the overall EU asylum and refugee policy.

Amnesty International and the ECRE group of refugee organizations in 30 European nations both came out against the EU's refugee policy, arguing it was aimed more at creating a "fortress Europe" than a humanitarian effort to help people in need. The EU says it is trying to protect its borders against human traffickers.

"The overall direction of EU policy appears to be far more geared toward keeping people out of the EU at all costs," said Dick Oosting, director of Amnesty International's EU department.

"We are seeing an attempt to construct new Berlin Walls around Europe that has tragic consequences and will not work," said Peer Beneke, secretary-general of the European Council of Refugees and Exiles. Morocco, meanwhile, was sending African immigrants home by the hundreds on special flights in a bid to stop the continent's poor from using their nation as a stepping stone to a better life in Europe.

On Sept. 29, five immigrants were shot to death while trying to get into Ceuta; six more died in clashes with Moroccan security forces at the Melilla border last week, reports the AP. I.L.

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