Saturday, February 15, 2014

Rubber bullets

Pressure on the borders at the Spanish territories of Ceuta and Melilla has increased over the last few months. Migrants, attempting to leave Morocco for Europe are trying to get in by land rather than risk their lives crossing to Spain in rickety boats. On Thursday, a large group of Syrians gathered at the border to Melilla in a bid to force their way through. Spanish police closed the border until the group had been dispersed.

The other, more risky way, is to swim around the breakwater that separates Morocco from Spanish territory on the North African coast. A group of about 200 tried to do that last week at the border with Ceuta. The police were waiting and fired rubber bullets into the water. At first the police denied firing at the swimmers but video footage shows that was a lie. Fifteen people died but the police insist that this was not their fault because the bullets were fired at least 25 metres from the swimmers.

This is not the first time that the police have used rubber bullets as a deterrent, a British jet skier was shot at in British territorial waters off Gibraltar last June. Spanish authorities now say that the breakwater at Ceuta will be extended in a bid to deter any further problems.

You can only imagine how desperate people’s situations are in their own countries for them to risk life in order to escape.

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