Violence from Authorities and Gangs Are Major Threat to Immigrants in Morocco

Madrid/Rabat, September 30, 2005 - A report released today by the international medical humanitarian aid organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) describes escalating violence against immigrants crossing from Morocco to Spain. Up to 25% of MSF's patients are seeking medical treatment as a result of persecution and attacks.

Since early 2003, MSF has been running mobile clinics and monitoring the immigrant community for disease outbreaks. Medical data and testimonies collected from migrants reveal that of the 10,232 medical consultations conducted between April 2003 and August 2005, 2,544 are violence related. This places violence and illnesses related to poor living conditions as the two greatest health risks to these vulnerable people.

Immigrants who have been victims of violence and treated by MSF say that their injuries have been caused by Moroccan police forces (44%), Spanish police forces (18%), criminal gangs (17%), mafia groups or networks engaged in human trafficking (12%), other immigrants (2%), and accidents (7%).

Injuries include gunshot wounds, beatings, as well as from attacks by dogs as people tried to escape Moroccan security forces. Deaths have also occurred.

MSF is concerned that these findings reveal systematic violence and degrading treatment which only serve to increase the suffering and marginalisation of people who are already exposed to extremely precarious and often inhumane conditions.

MSF in Morocco

MSF currently has medical programs in Tangier, Nador and Oujda. Mobile clinics provide preventative care like vaccinations, antenatal care, and family planning, and HIV/AIDS care and logistical supplies. MSF is also working to make Moroccan authorities more aware of the vulnerability of these migrants.

MSF has been present in Morocco since 1997.