Violations of the right to life and to dignity at the Algeria-Morocco border

EuroMed Rights alerts the UN Special Rapporteur

12 May, 2017 – The closure of a border should never justify for the inhumane situation in which 41 refugees are being left at the Algeria-Morocco border, including women and children. On the 11 May, 2017, EuroMed Rights has sent a request to the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants calling for his urgent intervention to Algiers and Rabat.

On 28 April 2017, EuroMed Rights published a press release alerting on the situation facing 56 people, among whom a new-born, stranded between Algeria and Morocco, as a result of the militarised closure of the border. For many years, EuroMed Rights has denounced the serious consequences this situation has had on human rights.[1]

41 people are still blocked in a desert, denied any form of assistance including food, drinking water, and access to health care. Among them are, notably, a pregnant woman and a child suffering from cancer; there have also been cases of diarrhea and scabies. All are exposed to snake attacks and to weather change, which the authorities of both countries are fully aware of.

Morocco proposed to allow access to 9 persons because they had family members in the country. For the others, Algeria and Morocco both argue none of them have the right to enter their country. Whether in the case of Algeria or Morocco, EuroMed Rights firmly stresses that people in need of international protection should never be sanctioned or denied entry on national territory on the ground that they have no visa.

For more than three weeks, the High Commissioner for Refugees has been stopped from accessing people who have fled Syria and whose situation falls under its mandate and are in need of international protection.

EuroMed Rights urges the Algerian and the Moroccan authorities to immediately abide by the international conventions they have ratified, and especially:

  • To safeguard immediate access to health care for each of these people;
  • To safeguard the rights to life and to dignity;
  • To grant access for each person to an asylum procedure, and to ad individual examination of their situation so as to safeguard, especially, the right to family reunion in Morocco, Algeria or in any third country (particularly in Germany where members of at least 13 people are established), in full respect of their family situation;
  • To allow, without further delay, the registration of all these persons by the competent High Commissioner for Refugees in each country;
  • To commit to Article 31 of the Geneva convention on the status of refugees which posits the non-criminalisation of the irregular border-crossing by people in need of international protection


[1] EuroMed Rights (2013) Maghnia: crossing the uncrossable border ; (2015) Far from prying eyes: a trap for migrants and refugees. Militarisation of the border between Algeria and Morocco.