Rabat – Several Moroccan nationals were injured this Monday morning when a stampede broke out at the Barrio Chino crossing point in the Spanish enclave of Melilla.
The incident happened at about 7:30 a.m., reported Spanish news outlet Eco Diario, while Morocco’s Association of Human Rights (AMDH) told French News Agency AFP that 11 people were wounded on the Moroccan side.
While Moroccan and Spanish media reported that the stampede caused the death of a man who was “severely injured” during the incident, Morocco’s Maghreb Arab Press said that no death cases were recorded.
“Contrary to what has been reported, no death was recorded following the incident,” Nador’s local authorities pointed out.
Spanish media reported that three were injured on the Spanish side, one of whom is in a “very serious condition.”
Authorities in Melilla explained that the crowd rushed Mellila’s entrance from the Moroccan borders “without prior warning.”
The police added that the crossing point was closed “pending a return to order and normality at the entrances from Morocco.”
This is the second tragedy to take place this week at a crossing point between the Spanish and Moroccan borders. On January 15, a stampede at Ceuta’s Tarajal II crossing caused the death of two Moroccan women and several injuries.
Three reported stampedes happened in 2017. The first incident occurred on March 28, 2017, when a woman tragically lost her life in a stampede, while the second incident dates back to April 24, when a 50-year old woman died under the same circumstances. The third tragedy took place on August 28, when two Moroccan women died while several others suffered injuries.
In June 2017, Spanish authorities made an agreement with the Moroccan government to prevent the so-called “human mules” from crossing the borders through Ceuta’s El Tarajal II crossing in the same day.
According to the agreement reached by the two governments, women are allowed to cross the border only on Mondays and Wednesdays, while men will be permitted on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The decision was taken after Moroccan authorities asked Ceuta’s government to help decrease pedestrian traffic at the border. In the same month, Spanish parliament discussed a suggestion by Podemos Party to improve the working conditions of Ceuta and Melilla’s human mules. This proposition has not seen a light yet.
Thousands of Moroccan women and men cross this border post every week to sell their goods in Morocco and provide for themselves. Often, they carry up to 70 kilos and make several round trips during the day and are sometimes treated inhumanely by Spanish authorities in the crossing points.