Migrant tales of a war in the border

29 august

South Border of Spain. Spain. Automous city of Melilla.
The fence.


We arrived to the fence. I cut myself with the debris of barbed wire lying on the path.
We are 52 now. Jusefs group tried to do the same yesterday. We were splitted in three groups to make the jump. We said farewell. Now its time. I see Sali, he smiles and points to the other side with his chin. A phonecall when we are there. We will see each other there.

Guards in two trucks has seen us. The guards get out from the trucks. They shoot at us with rubber-balls. They have the same sound as cannonballs. More cars and jeeps arrive. I was the first to jump the fence and tried to bring the ladder with me. They are coming fast and their steps are louder and louder. Now its more soundly. We jump over the second fence. Everyone. It’s not longer silent.

The ladder holds well. I see that Sam and Adama are bleeding. We look at both sides of the fence before we run. We are 6 people. – Where are Nipa and Nam? The cloud of dust goes down. There are two bodies in the mark. I close the eyes to open them again and I see they are alive. We fetch them. They are vomiting blood. Nam was hit in the chest from a pair meters. Nipa doesn’t speak but Arianne was besides her when the ball hit her belly.

They are coming now, with the rifles in their hands. They encircle us. We see them but they can’t see us. Nipa and Nam continue vomiting blood. Electrical charges. I see that Nam is no longer moving. At least they stopped hitting us. They start to lift us from the mark: Up! Listen to me! Nigger, come up!
They pull them along. Nipa has still the eyes open and looks at me. Nam is a still body, inert. They take us down, they have opened the small entry. Again the small door. We are again outside the fence. We hear the steps of the Moroccans and we run fast, we run, we run. We hide in the night.

South border of Europe. Morocco.
Refugee camps in the woods of Nador. Melilla fence.


Its being dawn since hours. We start to go out from our hideouts. We recognize each other, we must go and fetch the rest of us. Nam’s inert body lies on the mark, 50 meters from the fence. From inside I feel the pain going through my body . I feel I am diying inner in. Images of the assault come back to us. We all scream meanwhile we get near the body. Jusef becames sick when he touches the cold body. We help him going up and without second thoughts we take the body and carry it to our camp.

The Guinean Nassur tell us that Maroccan guards took away the dead body of Nipa. Only short after we ran to the woods. Maybe they didn’t see Nam’s body, maybe they thought two dead were too many dead.


We are going to ask for support in the city. Some phonecalls to confirm what happened and tell the rest of the world. We need to be seen and heard. The dead are not invisible. Everything is speeding up. Europe? Democracy defending itself with shots in the night. Cutting knives and blood in the skin of all of us.


In the camp the air is thick. Some are looking away. We sit down and try to find any exit. In the middle of us the body of Nam is at least protected. Our beaten bodies speak up. Our bodies rather scream. We look at each other constantly, we look for answers in each other’s eyes. We are not going to die alone, along this long way. They is no noman’s land dead.
We carry the inert body of our comrade near the fence. The guards of the damned fence may not close their eyes. They are there, murdereres paid by the mighty. We scream from our bellies. -Murderers! They look at us. They speak with each other. -Murderers!

The royal guards come. They surround us. We are going with them to declare about the deaths in the night. I have seen everything. We don’t have other option. Now they are going to interrogate us, the tricky questions. Some have fled.

31 August

Europes Southern Border. Morocco.
Migrants camp in the woods of Nador. Melilla’s fence.


The Moroccan army comes into the camp. We hide in the woods but they take many of us, we don’t know how many. We must wait until tomorrow to see who is safe. We ran before they came. Their steps are less firm now but the earth still shake with the same intensity when they come.
The choppers are still flying over the zone. The horrible sound makes us shiver. The branches of the trees shiver too. We hear someone speaking Spanish. When they are near the fence they make an agreement. We hear Hammu and Salem, screaming. They look at their eyes but they don’t see them. The shots hit you inside. You feel that you die. We die, all of us, with each buzz. I see other eyes in the night, among the leaves. We hear our comrades screaming. Minutes pass over me.


A few hours of the morning have gone, they decide to leave. We start to call everyone who can help us. We are still hiding, among leaves. We tell people they told us some were taken to Alger. They are driven back. Some of them were hurt by the kicks and the beatings of the guards. They were working faster than before. They were taken to buses and driven away, they are taken away.
The army also took away food and blankets. They took everything away. They burned the tents. They worked the whole night. They worked in shifts. It seems we are not going to make it. We must gather again. We must jump. We will try again.

8th September

Europe’s Southern Border. Morocco.
The camp of migrants of the woods of Benyounes. The fence of Ceuta.

04.00 h

We hear the steps in despite of the distance. Sturdy boots which don’t stop at anything. Sometimes guards seem bored. They smoke American cigarettes. We see them through the fence. We recognize them, we know their faces and try to understand their looks. We should learn to penetrate our eyes with our eyes, teach them to look to the other side. Only to make the crossing, for a few minutes, to make the crossing.
The lights are now more intense. Only a few weeks ago they were only four or five walking the 8 kilometers. Now they are more, maybe thirty. They carried some big movile reflectors which illuminates these side too. They are a lot more of them now. They came only a few days ago. On the uniforms they have insignias shining upon the lights. Their faces are young but they seem have lived several wars.
Everything is speeded up. We can’t go back. We have the police too near. This week they took some of us when they come back from the city. They went to buy food and ropes. They had chargers for the car batteries. Now some of them must go back to recharge them. They call us from the south, one of the fields of the zone has been destroyed. They said they took them to the border with Alger. Tonight we are going to jump again.

13th September

Europe’s Southern Border. Morocco.
The camp of migrants in the woods of Nador. The fence of Melilla.


They speak already of another dead. They say he was in coma in a hospital in the Spanish side. From the 8th. He died yesterday. Munir and Hassane saw everything.
We were hidden in the bushes. The Moroccan guards beated his body, who was almost still, We shivered. We saw something shining. They were stabbing his legs. The body falls over a ramp. He was dieying when the brutes left. We closed our fist to no scream. Brutes. We come near the body of our brother, we lifted it. Someone whisled to us from the other side of the fence. He has seen everything too. -He must go to a hospital. We took the body to his side. They dissapeared and we went back to the woods.

We still don’t know who are the dead they speak about. More and more people are dissapeared. They say the guy who died was from Mali. Maybe Alem or Rasid. We don’t know anything about Idrissa, she went to declare with the royal guards. They start to speak about unnamed dead, as in our country, as in all the wars.


They are working on the fence. Africa. They want us to leave, isn’t? To the land of no existence, to the silence of the desert. Black holes of the present. They want erase us from the maps, they want rise the prices of the jumps, of the ferry and of the pateras. They want take everything from us.
Not either we which demanded political asyle has too much to do. We scream too, to be heard, but nobody listen to us. We are passing people. The transit becomes longer, we don’t entry. We must continue walking.

15th September

Europe’s Southerner Border. Morocco.
The woods of Nador. The fence of Melilla.


They take away the body hit by the damn rubber bullets. Just in the neck. Dead. Bright eyes among the branches. Afraid, sad and enraged. They look at each other looking for answers. -What is happening?
The hunt of the royal guard doesn’t end. Children learn very early the value of silence. They shot with rifles and real bullets. Now, from both sides.

Europe’s Southern Border. Morocco. Rabat.
Neighboorhood of Ayn Nada 2.


We are awaken by the beating on doors and the screams of children. They come here too. They are many and are in a hurry. They go in. Hitings. We are evicted from our houses. They hold the arms of the people who resist and beat them everywhere, no hesitation. We are going out and they put us into groups. They treat us like animals.
Many comrades show their papers with the stamps of permits to stay and to work. But nobody looks nor listens. Children scream. Silence ended tonight. In this quarter mostly we are Congolese and from the Cost of Ivory. Some are Nigerians. We go out from a war to get back into another. But this is a non declared war.

There is wounded people everywhere. Law watchers don’t loose time. They put us into buses. -Hurry up nigger! Hurry up! We don’t know how many. We don’t know if we are all here. We see that Amina is bleeding. Ngodi limps, he can barely walk. They are killing us, slowly, they are killing us. We see that we are hundreds and try to resist. They are many and have weapons. The beatings don’t stop until after buses are running- -You are not coming back! They laugh. Again, the border with Argel.
We don’t have enouth air. The buses of death. Arms outside the windows looking for some possibility. Anima is still bleeding. People who succeded in hiding their cellphones are informing others. Desperate shoutings. They say they are going to do what they can, they urge us to continue together. That we keep on claiming asylum.

Mpele has the head split up. Her bloody hand still squeezes strongly some papers. The police are scared and they stop the buses. There are many buses, almost 10. Lots of blood. Too many dead. We keep going.

21th September

Europe’s South Border
The network


News don’t stop, everyday. Every hour. We are on them. Everything is speeding up. The nightly raids, the small door.
Morocco plays well its cards, they told us. They urged them to make the jump. They put theirs in camps. It’s a money matter, damned money. Millions of Euros.Damn. They can build it with steel or with cement. Water looks for it’s course. Or the wall crashes.
There are not so many who pass over the fence. There is always another way. Who jumps over the fence or who walks. But if you can pay, you can choose.
They sent back to Spain a group of Senegalese demanding asylum. It’s been weeks now since we had good news. Despite of that we celebrate it. Some people does from their cells in Morocco. They send greetings. Mails open paths. We are the others.

27th September

Europe’s Southern Border. Spain. The autonomous city of Melilla.
The fence.


We jump. This time not all of us makes it. You can feel the panic in the camps tonight. The army make us invisible. There is more of them every time, and we are fewer. They took away hundreds of us, in the whole country, maybe thousands. They called us up. There is no way back. We run.
We run to the city. I cut myself in the arm and I am bleeding. Nadin tryes to stop the bleeding with a compression bandage made with some threads from his shirt. We must hurry up. We scaped from the civil guards. If they catch us before we arrive to the police station, we are going to be sended back by the small door. Run, hurry up, run. We hide among the cars to come out when they have gone. Ken leads us. We ran to the city. The police station is there. Only a few more steps.

29th September
The fence’s netwok.


The telephone rings. 50 minutes ago 200 people tried to jump over the fence. Many succeeded. There are at least 40 seriously wounded and they think there are 2 dead. Communication breaks. They must take care of the wounded and see what happens. We call and keep calling. 4.30 we wake up some journalist. We go down to the street to charge our cell phone. 30 Euros.
Never before so many people at once made the jump in Ceuta. The civil guards want to take the wounded to hospital. They are afraid. Noises and beatings. We are all afraid. -Asylum, we want asylum!


The ambulance is coming. We are a bit more calmed down now. We keep calling. Someone must be a witness in oder to demand asylum. We call. -Asylum! The tone of the conversation rises up. They scream. They are being taken to the small door. Pushings and beatings. They want to do that before the press comes. We must resist until dawn, demanding asylum, all together. The whims of the authorities, a fast decision from higher levels, who knows. International law doesn’t exist at this border war.
The Congolese sit on the floor. We are more than a hundred but we are divided into several groups, we are no longer all together. Cries. A small toddler of three months died, he was the son of a girl we know.
This is their war but these dead are our dead. We don’t forget. The mother tried to cross carrying the baby in her arms. The hits of the rubber bullets and the gas made them fall down and thus the baby died. He died in the Maroccan side.


The first tv-news speaks of 6 dead. Someone calls us from Morocco. They are deporting lots of people, illegally. They have not gone through the police station and they are again in the woods. Someone calls us from his hideout, in the woods. Civil guards shot. Some have being left there. Others have being taken to hospital directly.
6 dead? We don’t know how nor when. We don’t know why they decided to make the jump tonight and in this way. It’s not an usual strategy in the camps of Ceuta. We don’t know what happened. We heared than in Melilla people were passing and maybe they tried to make the jump all together.
In a few hours the authorities had a meeting. Money for the guards. Millions of Euros.

2th October

Europe’s Southerner border. Morocco. Rabat.
Police station number 15.


We are around 30. Everyone demanding asylum. -Be quiet, nigger! Everyone inside, all inside! The cells are small. Dirty and damp. Hannas is almost fainting of hunger. They don’t give us water.

A stream of light under the door. The door opens. They allow us to go back.

Europe’s South Border. Morocco. Rabat.
Police station number 3.


We are more than 50. All in the same cell. Gray. I breath badly. Karim is not yet 17 years old.


We have being taken away fast, they put us into buses. Not all of us are here. Adama, from the Cost of Ivory, has an infection in her stomach and shivers in pain. The medicines. There is a boy who is half dead, on the mark, he doesn’t react. He is still breathing but his eyes are white.
My life is more in danger here than in my own country. -For whose benefit is this barbaric situation?

3th October

Europe’s South Border. Morocco.
Highway of Bouanane.


A cloud of dust covers the tar. At least thirty buses. We must spare our strenght. Some of them are already there, left alone, in the desert. Without any food or water. In small groups so that you don’t resist. To die here or in my country. This is a slow death.
We are arriving. Motors roar. We are afraid for the seriously wounded. The nigh is now darker. We call and keep calling. They are killing us. We are dead, many of us, we are already dead. I squeeze with strenght the hand of Mansour. We must keep the contact.

5th October

Europe’s South Border. Algery.
Desert of Sahara.


There are 14 dead. Nothing to drink. They took us to die in the desert. To nothingless.

We all the time walk looking for some light. We lost many of us in the way. The night and the sand. Omar had a broken leg. We looked at each other when we went out from the buses. I carry in my eyes the rage of everyone of us and the fear. Laila comes either. I have still some credit on my mobile. Until we arrive to the lights or until it dawns. They say there is Alger.
We are the travellers on a permanent transit. Beaten bodies, coming back to life. We are full of death but we keep going back into the way. If we pass the night we can try and remake it.

Europe’s South Border. Morocco.
The woods of Nador.


The whole night. We have being on the trees for hours. We moved in small groups. There were thousands of soldiers. -From where are they coming? We run fast, we are fast and silent. Our children forget how to cry.
We have being taken away. They burn everything. We have being used until we crashed. Dirty animals, disgusting serfs of whoever. Maybe somebody evaded the dogs. I breath deeply and hug Aisha towards my chest. They are there, the buses.

6th October

Europe’s South Border. Autonomous city of Melilla.
The fence.


We are all here. We succeded. They are shooting the big rubber balls. I can still hear the buzz. There were several choppers, from both sides. My eyes burn. These gases can make you blind.
We arrive to the police station. We are safe. We must give strenght to the people left away, on their way.

8th October

Europe’s South Border. Algery.
Desert of Sahara.


You must choose between dying in the desert or dying by a bullet at the fence. There are now dozens of dead. Of hunger and thirst. Condemned to be outside. There are thousands, many brothers are being kept in military camps. There are women with toddlers in their arms. Many of them are pregnant.

I remember the dead and I keep dying inside. Buses stop, army trucks and jeeps are coming. We are being separated in small groups and thrown into the desert. Janik speaks on the mobile phone. He has managed to avoid the moroccans. He says that they try to stop all that from the another side. It is not time. Every second is a loss. Minutes pass over me.

We have gone the whole night towards the lights, some of us have come. The Algerian military men have given us water and food. Companions have been appearing during the whole night. Others not. We lost them in the desert. Sand will cover the bodies of our dead men. We will make you pay for this massacre.

26 October

Europa’s south border. Morocco. Kenitra’s military airport.


They take us again to Mali, we will come to Bamako this night. They took Johannes and others to Guelmín. They were a hundred.

Many of ours have lied. We change the names into the lives. Some of them declared themselves from senegal to prevent them to be taken to the desert. They were scared, stiff.

Europa’s south border. Morocco. Military camp in Guelmín.


There are no bathrooms. There are no showers where we are. They do not stop monitoring our slight movements. Bread with tea and a glass with lentils, for the whole day. They name the desert so to make us shiver. We take with us the pain of the others.

31 October

Europa’s south border. Morocco. Military camp in Guelmín.

Ivory Coast, The Congo RDC, Sierra Leone and Liberia. We all have asked for it, rather, have shouted it. – I shelter!-. They do not listen to us. The conditions here are unbearable. New jails on the land of nobody. Military jails. We are the prisoners of the war at the border, expelled from possibility, without name.

They say that after that they will repatriate us, condemned to death. They have stopped approaching the leaders of our countries at war. The same ones from which we fled. They cooperate, the powerful ones, to submit us, travellers. Our information has being presented to them in tray.
We still have our living bodies. It is the only thing that we have. Hunger strike. They will have to come for us or to burry us all. This war never ends. We will return. Necessarily we will return and invent a way through.

Written by Pilar Monsell. Málaga, December, 2005.

[Translation by Ana Valdés]

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