Relatives of missing migrants demand answers, return of bodies

By Fatima Zohra Bouaziz

Rabat, Oct 4 (EFE).- A small group of mothers, fathers and siblings of Moroccan migrants who have disappeared on the perilous journey to Europe are asking for the bodies of their relatives to be returned.

“We just want them back, dead or alive,” the small collective demand in regular protests outside the foreign ministry in Rabat in which they ask the government to help them find their loved ones.

“The last call I had with him was on March 27 before he left on the boat. Since, we don’t know anything,” Rachida Machrouhi, who has come to Rabat to participate in a sit-in demonstration outside the foreign affairs building, tells Efe.

Rachida is referring to her brother Hadi who, along with 52 others, decided to take a boat from the city of El Aaiún in Western Sahara with the dream of reaching the Canary Islands.

“We want him to turn up, dead or alive, so that we can rest assured,” she says.

Twelve bodies were found from the boat Hadi was on, but the rest are still missing, including Rachida’s brother.

“We are united by the same pain, we are one family. We want to know the whereabouts of all our people who were only looking for better living conditions,” Rachida says.

Fanida is also at the demonstration, asking for the body of her son to be returned.

“Since November 27 last year I have not heard from my son, since he left on a boat with 35 children destined for Spain,” she tells Efe as she grips a picture of her 24-year-old son, Mohamed Abghalil.

Thirty people were rescued from that boat, but the rest are still missing.

Mohamed traveled almost 1,000 kilometers from his town, Kelaat Sraghna, to El Aaiún with the same dream of reaching the Canary Islands. Fanida says she tried to convince him not to leave, but he didn’t listen.

Fatima Kazzar’s son Achraf took a different route, but with the same goal.

The 21-year-old left in August last year on a jet ski from the eastern coast of Saïdia in Morocco to Algeria, from where he would take a boat across the Mediterranean to Spain. Fatima has not heard from her son since.

“I’m sure my son is alive, a mother’s feeling never fails,” she says.

Fatima hired a lawyer in Spain who confirmed that her son had not arrived as well as another lawyer in Algeria who is still searching for the young man.

An association called Help for Migrants in Vulnerable Situations in Oujda, not far from the Algerian border, has registered some 1,000 people missing or detained in Algeria, Libya or Tunisia during their attempts to emigrate to Europe.

Out of these, 560 are listed as missing. EFE


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