Maghnia: Crossing the Uncrossable Border

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In November 2012 and June 2013, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) commissioned two missions to Maghnia, an Algerian city bordering Morocco, to investigate the conditions of its Sub-Saharan migrant and refugee population. The border crossing between Maghnia and Oujda, its counterpart on the Moroccan side, is one of the main migratory crossroads in North Africa. While thousands of Sub-Saharan migrants have passed through it in the past decade, the securitization and externalisation of European migration policies has resulted in a growing number finding themselves “stranded” between the two borders.

Mission findings highlighted the dramatic conditions faced by migrants and refugees in the border town, substantiating research already carried out by organizations on the Moroccan side. Deportations to and from Morocco – carried out illegally – are frequent and have affected an overwhelming majority of the population, including vulnerable groups such as women and unaccompanied minors. During their time in Maghnia, migrants and refugees face a number of other violations at the hands of Algerian authorities, including, but not limited to, arbitrary arrests and detention, robberies, beatings, and other violent acts. The same is true for those who live across the border in Morocco.