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Relatives of Melilla fence-jumper missing ‘in Spain, Morocco or mountains’

– What can the families of the disappeared do?

Khaled’s question echoes over the phone’s speaker from where they could answer, but the listener, Ali, can only swallow. Just a 15-minute walk away, Nador Hospital holds the bodies of 23 people who died trying to jump the Melilla fence, but no one can get to them. Their doors are closed to those who try to identify them.

“I don’t know if my brother is injured, in Spain, in Morocco or in the bush… it’s not normal,” continued Khaled, 25, from France. He does not dare to say the last of the “ifs” out loud.

It’s been a week since Melila jumped the fence and she still hasn’t heard from her older brother, 28-year-old Mohamed Saleh. “I’m going to exhaust my way to find him among the living. I will keep looking,” Khaled insists by phone from his home in Bordeaux, where he has lived for the past six years. After he heard what happened on Friday, June 24, at the Melilla border, he tried to find out his brother’s whereabouts through the Sudanese community in Morocco.

Since then, he has been calling Ali, the city neighbor who everyone left behind in Sudan, every day. Sitting on a bed in the small room where he is recovering from a leg injury in Nador, the 22-year-old hears a similar question every day: “Do you know something?”

The answer is negative and Khaled doesn’t understand anything. “I was calm on Friday, I thought they contacted me, but days pass and I don’t know anything about him. I am losing hope that he will contact me again. We are in shock.”

“I don’t want to think he’s dead”

A photo of Mohammed was also posted on a private Facebook group set up by Sudanese families and friends searching for the missing after at least 23 people died trying to cross the border last Friday. Ali shows the pictures one after the other. Some provide details such as their phone numbers and ask for any information that may help them find them.

“I don’t want to think he’s dead. I will continue to search, and if I don’t find anything, I will go to Morocco to find answers,” says Khaled forcefully. A voice from behind backs up his words and greets the press who are listening. He is one of the 10 brothers in the family. He also lives in France.

None of them said anything to their mother. He, Khaled explains, had no information about the deaths in Melilla from a small town in Sudan. They don’t want to worry him. They avoid her pain, which is already building up after a week of not responding.

nor his wife. The brother even left two children: a four and two year old girl and a boy.

“They don’t have internet. They don’t know what’s going on, why should I tell them now?” Khaled explains, still patiently. “But I’m in France, the information is coming to me and I can do something.”

Change route

Khaled has been living in France since 2016, when he left Sudan and traveled to Libya. From there, he traveled to Lampedusa and was rescued by one of the MSF rescue missions, he said.

Last August, Mohamed Saleh decided to follow in his brother’s footsteps and join him in France. “Due to the situation in Sudan, they gave me asylum – 88% of Sudanese have also received it in Spain this year. I live in Bordeaux, where I work, and I have documents from 2018,” says the 25-year-old. “He wanted to follow my example.”

But when he followed the same path as his brother, the path changed. An EU deal with the North African country, which handed over control of rescue operations to the Libyan coast guard interviewed, has helped to return to a country where various international organizations have documented violence and torture of migrants and refugees.

The greatest obstacles forced Mohamed Saleh, like more and more Sudanese, to cross the borders of Niger and Algeria to reach Morocco and from there try to enter Ceuta and Melilla.

“The condition of the route to Italy has changed and it is more expensive and dangerous. “After the time spent in Libya, my brother decided to come to Morocco,” summarizes Mohammed. “We never imagined this result. In the boat, all right, but I can’t get into the fence in my head, that I haven’t heard from my brother for several days.’

There are no answers

According to the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH), the Alawite authorities planned to bury the dead without autopsies or prior identification in about twenty graves dug in the Muslim cemetery of Nador, where transparency and police surveillance were constant. days ago No funeral has been held at this time, but the NGO fears that this is only a temporary decision given the scandal that has arisen since her complaint.

Last week, AMDH in Nador received desperate pleas from eight Sudanese families seeking information about their deceased children, siblings or friends. Omar Naji, the leader of the association, collected the photos on his phone and went to El Hassan Hospital in Nador to request admission to the morgue. He wanted to check if any of these pictures matched the lifeless bodies that had been kept in the mine since the previous Friday.

He could not make it, he was prevented from entering. Meanwhile, families like Mohamed Saleh’s are waiting for someone to answer one of their questions: “If I don’t have answers, I’ll go to Morocco to continue my search.”

Source: El Diario





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