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Morocco and Algeria trade accusations over deporting refugees

March 10, 2014 at 3:56 pm

A spokesperson for the Moroccan Ministry of the Interior told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday that the Algerian ambassador in Rabat had been summoned to hear an official protest about his country’s alleged deportation of Syrian refugees across the border to Morocco.

“The Moroccan authorities have repeatedly recorded the Algerian authorities expelling Syrian refugees across the kingdom’s eastern borders contrary to the rules of good neighbourliness,” said an official statement. “At the same time, the kingdom regrets the miserable conditions experienced by the refugees.”

Algeria’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ammar Blaney denied the allegation categorically. It was pointed out that it is the Moroccans who are expelling Syrian refugees who were, in turn, denied entry by the Algerian border authorities. “Algerian border guards arrest people who try to enter Algeria illegally,” said General Mohammed Buallaq. “Algeria would never expel them into a neighbouring country. These Syrian nationals were on Moroccan territory in the first place.”

The coordinator of the Association of Syrian Liberals in North African countries, Jihad Faroun, told AFP that there have been nearly 2,500 Syrian refugees in Morocco since the start of the conflict in their home country. According to the Interior Ministry in Algiers, there are nearly 12,000 Syrian refugees in Algeria.

Algeria and Morocco have opened their closed borders since 1994; only once in 2009 to allow a convoy of solidarity with Gaza coming from Europe to pass through Morocco, Algeria towards Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Gaza.