African migrants accuse Moroccan police of stealing money and phones

Angry African migrants shouted, took off their shirts and shoes in protest and accused Moroccan police of stealing their money and portable telephones as they were put aboard a deportation flight from Morocco on Monday. The 129 Cameroonians were flown to Cameroon's southwestern port city of Douala from a military airport in Goulimine, 650 kilometers (400 miles) south of the Moroccan capital, Rabat.

The migrants started shouting and cursing as soon as their bus pulled up beside the Royal Air Maroc Boeing 737.

Their flight was the last of seven that have flown 970 people from Goulimine in recent days. Nearly 1,600 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa were shipped out on special flights from the northeast city of Oujda, near the Algerian border, last week.

Migrants habitually transit through this North African kingdom in a bid to reach two Spanish enclaves in the north that would give them a foothold in Europe. The mass deportations were in response to migrants storming across barbed-wire fences around the enclaves, Melilla and Ceuta, and a decision by Spain to send back to Morocco those who managed to scale the barriers, the AP reports.

"I don't have any money, why did the Moroccan authorities take our money?" Herve Zamba Achry, 26, shouted from a bus. He took off his shirt and shoes in protest. "I don't have a franc!"

"We didn't sign a (release) form" and the deportations were not voluntary, he said.

One deportee complained of losing two mobile phones to authorities. Another spit as he climbed aboard a bus while still others simply shouted out, "I am very angry."

"Everyone says what he thinks, but I assure you that the majority want to return," said Mugnol Amoungam, first secretary of the Cameroon Embassy.

Morocco has been negotiating with more than a dozen countries to get them to take back their citizens. Most deported so far come from Senegal and Mali.

Ahmed Himdi, governor of the Goulimine region, dismissed claims that police stole money from the migrants.

"I certainly deny it," he said. "These were voluntary departures ... We've conducted them based on humanitarian principles. We are treating them with the utmost dignity."

It was not clear how many more people Morocco would be deporting.

Officials said 206 other Africans from more than a dozen nationalities remained at the Goulimine base. Moroccan authorities must identify them then, based on discussions with embassies, decide what to do, officials said.


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