Sun, 16 Dec 2018
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Casablanca

Moroccan migrants risk it all to reach Europe

News24
22 Sep 2018, 03:38 GMT+10

In the Spanish enclave of Melilla in northern Morocco, 19-year-old Issam crouches near the port after hopping over a fence across one of the only land borders bridging Europe and Africa.

He is one of thousands of would-be migrants in the kingdom, dubbed "harraga" in Arabic, referring to those prepared to risk it all to reach mainland Europe.

"Everyone wants to move," says the young man from the city of Fez, his hood pulled up and his trousers smeared in engine grease.

Fleeing "misery and injustice" at home, he says he is looking for a ticket to a "European paradise".

But his journey is not over yet.

To cross the Mediterranean, he will have to cling to the chassis of a truck boarding a boat, or to the mooring lines of a ferry leaving for Spain.

Further back from the coast in Melilla's highlands, 23-year-old Hamid stares out across the harbour, closely eyeing its criss-crossing vessels.

He left his hometown of central Meknes where he earned just over $6.50 a day laying tiles.

"You can't live in dignity with that," says Hamid, who has never learnt to read or write.

"I know fathers who have families who want to leave - people are desperate," he adds.

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