Nearly 1,000 migrants died trying to reach Spain in first half of 2022: NGO

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The European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs is set call Spain’s Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, to appear before MEPs next September to explain the recent tragedy in Melilla in which 23 sub-Saharan migrants died trying to scale the border between Morocco and Melilla, one of Spain’s North African territories.  

READ ALSO: 18 migrants die in mass attempt to enter Spain’s Melilla

The Committee is also considering sending MEPs to both Melilla and Morocco to get a better understanding of the facts, and what can be done to improve the border instability and avoid further tragedies. 

Although Marlaska himself is not obliged to appear at the European Parliament, the decision to ask him to appear before MEPs was made this Thursday in Brussels at the request of the ‘United Left’ group of members.

In a statement made following the committee meeting, MEP Miguel Urbán criticised what he believes to be the European Union’s “fortress Europe” migration policy, and pointed to the Spanish government for what had happened in Melilla. 

READ ALSO: Why are Ceuta and Melilla Spanish?

“It is the Moroccan regime, but they [Spain] are also responsible: the Spanish government that has been making institutional racism a border policy for decades,” Urban said.

The committee will also invite the Spanish Commission for Refugee Aid (CEAR) and the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) to appear. AMDH recently published preliminary findings of a report that blamed Spanish inaction for worsening the situation on the border.

The AMDH suggested that the Spanish authorities “vacillated” in providing “the necessary assistance” to avoid an increase in violence and danger, which in turn led to more deaths.

READ ALSO: Spanish prosecutor opens probe into Melilla migrant deaths

The committee is set to hold its next meeting on September 5th, but the date is dependent on when, and if, Marlaska and the human rights groups can appear.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has stated since the incident that “the Moroccan Gendarmerie worked in coordination with the state security forces and bodies to repel this violent assault,” and that he considered the events in Melilla an “attack on the territorial integrity” of Spain. 

The Spanish government refused to directly address the AMDH report this week, but defended the actions of Guardia Civil agents.

READ ALSO: Spain defends Guardia Civil after migrant deaths