31 people land in Melilla – Spanish and Moroccan authorities endangered their lives

After an all-night odyssey, 31 people, among them 4 women, landed in the Spanish enclave Melilla independently. They had reached out to the Alarm Phone yesterday at around 1pm CET and called for help. They had left from Nador in the early morning. We were not able to receive a precise GPS position but we could locate a tanker in their vicinity and we stayed in touch with them for many hours. We repeatedly informed the Spanish authorities to the case but they merely stated that the boat was not in their search and rescue zone. The Spanish Salvamento Maritimo informed the MRCC Rabat and said they would conduct the rescue operation. We spoke to MRCC Rabat several times as well and though they promised to engage, nobody showed up to support the travellers in need.

Hours passed, and when it turned dark, the situation became increasingly dangerous. Although they were anxious, the travellers did not give up but continued to move on despite being neglected by both Spanish and Moroccan authorities. Incredibly, they managed to reach Melilla safely and on their own. We are relieved that they have survived but their odyssey highlights very clearly a policy of neglect, with the Spanish and Moroccan authorities handing responsibility to each other without anyone engaging. We strongly condemn their behaviour – had the travellers lost their lives it would have been due to their inactions.