Spanish police fire at drowning migrants

This video says about itself:

8 Feb 2014

Video, recorded by a witness, contradicts official reports that the Spanish Civil Guard played no part in the drowning deaths of illegal immigrants attempting to cross into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta.

Witnesses claim those in the water were intimidated and fired upon for 1/2 an hour with rubber bullets; at least 13 people reportedly drowned. The tragedy occurred as they attempted to reach a seawall that separates the territory from Morocco.

Of the thirteen reported missing, nine bodies have been recovered by the Moroccan authorities — eight men and one woman. Reports suggest that four died in a crush, and another four drowned, “just a few meters from the shore.”

Civil Guard sources said reports of rubber bullets being fired were “false,” although Moroccan and Spanish security forces used riot gear to repel the entry attempt.

So, that was five days ago.

Today, the claim by the Spanish Guardia Civil that they did not fire bullets at the swimming people has been officially admitted to be a lie.

From the Times of Malta:

Thursday, February 13, 2014, 16:52

Spanish police fire rubber bullets at migrants trying to swim to enclave

Spain said today that border police had fired rubber bullets in an attempt to turn back around 200 migrants who tried to cross the frontier between Morocco and Spain’s north African enclave Ceuta on Thursday last week.

At least 11 migrants from the group drowned in the Mediterranean trying to swim around a man-made breakwater that separates Moroccan and Spanish waters, a Spanish official said today.

Every year thousands of Africans try to reach Europe via Spain’s two north African enclaves, Ceuta and Melilla, either by swimming along the coast or climbing the triple walls lined with razor wire that mark the border with Morocco.

Migrants who live rough in the mountains on the Moroccan side, waiting for an opportunity to rush the frontier, told Spanish media the police fired rubber bullets at them and sprayed them with tear gas as they tried to swim to land.

Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez told a parliamentary commission on Thursday that rubber bullets had been fired at a distance of at least 25 metres from the migrants while they were in the water. He did not mention use of tear gas.

Hundreds protested in central Madrid on Wednesday against the treatment of illegal migrants in Spain, bearing placards reading slogans such as: “Ceuta: the shame of Europe” and “South looted, North closed”.

The pressure on Ceuta and Melilla has increased as more migrants try to enter via a land frontier rather than by crossing the sea in rickety vessels, because border control at sea has increased.

Interior Minister Fernandez said the breakwater separating Spanish and Moroccan waters would be lengthened during to deter migrants trying to swim to Spanish territory.

Spanish authorities lie about African migrant drownings: here.

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Montagu’s harrier migration, new research

This video is called Montagu’s Harrier – Britain’s Rarest Raptor.

Results of ten years of research into Montagu’s harrier migration were published recently.

Providing harriers with satellite transmitters proved there are three main ways for the birds to cross the Mediterranean sea on their autumn migration from Europe to Africa: through Spain, through Italy and through Greece (a newly discovered flyway, which only east European birds use).

Montagu’s harriers from the Netherlands use only the two western flyways.

Montagu's harriers flyways to Africa

In Africa, they winter in areas where they can feed on locusts.

When, in spring, the harriers fly back north, Morocco is an important stop over area for them. That is also a new discovery.

The new research was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The importance of northwest African stopover sites for Dutch, German and Danish Montagu’s Harriers: here.

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White-throated bee-eater, new species for North Africa

This video says about itself:

On Location: The White-Throated Bee-Eater

The White-throated Bee-eater, Merops albicollis is a near passerine bird in the bee-eater family Meropidae. It breeds in semi-desert along the southern edge of the Sahara, Africa. The White-throated Bee-eater is migratory, wintering in a completely different habitat in the equatorial rainforests of Africa from southern Senegal to Uganda.

This species, like other bee-eaters, is a richly-coloured, slender bird. It is predominantly green, but its face and throat are white with a black crown, eye stripe, and neckband. The underparts are pale green shading to blue on the breast. The eye is red and the beak is black.

The White-throated Bee-eater can reach a length of 19-21 cm, excluding the two very elongated central tail feathers, which can exceed an additional length of 12 cm. They weigh between 20 and 28 grams. Sexes are alike. The call is similar to European Bee-eater.

The White-throated Bee-eater is a bird which breeds in dry sandy open country, such thorn scrub and near-desert. These abundant bee-eaters are gregarious, nesting colonially in sandy banks or open flat areas. They make a relatively long 1-2 m tunnel in which the 6 to 7 spherical white eggs are laid. Both the male and the female take care of the eggs, but up to five helpers also assist with caring for the young.

White-throated Bee-eaters also feed and roost communally. As the name suggests, bee-eaters predominantly eat insects, especially bees, wasps and hornets, which are caught in the air by sorties from an open perch. However, this species probably takes mainly flying ants and beetles. Widespread and common throughout its large range, the White-throated Bee-eater is evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The other white-throated bee-eater video, below here, shows this species rather poorly, compared to the first video. However, it is still a special video, as it recorded a white-throated bee-eater much further to the north than usually.

This video says about itself:

White throated Bee eater, Gleb Jdiane, Morocco, Dec 2013. Noëlle & Hervé Jacob.

4 Jan 2014

Video footage of the first White-throated Bee-eater (Merops albicollis) for the Western Palearctic.

The bird was seen at Gleb Jdiane, a few kilometres south-east of Dakhla on the Aousserd road, Oued Dahab, southern Morocco on 5 and 6 December 2013 by Noëlle and Hervé Jacob.

From Birdwatch magazine in Britain:

Birders score Western Palearctic first

Posted on: 04 Jan 2014

Two French birders managed to video an exotic regional first while on a birding trip to the hot-spot of Gleb Jdiane, Western Sahara, last month.

Noëlle and Hervé Jacob were on a trip to the disputed desert territory – jointly administered by Morocco and Mauretania – and on the morning of 5 December were waiting for sandgrouse to appear at a well-known waterhole at Gleb Djiane, about 14.5 miles along the Aousserd road.

They said: “We saw a White-throated Bee-eater perched on a tamarisk, that was observable for at least 10 minutes until a Southern Grey Shrike chased it away. Sadly, we were unable to take photos, because we didn’t realise that this bird was not supposed to be there.

“The following morning we went back having missed the sandgrouse, probably partly because it had rained over the previous days and there were several other waterholes in the desert. Fortunately, the bee-eater was still there, but we could not get the car we were using as a hide any closer, so we were only able to shoot the poor video footage.

“The bird will be the first for both Morocco and the Western Palearctic, though the area is legendary for producing many regionally hard-to-get species such as Sudan Golden Sparrow, Cricket Warbler and Dunn’s Lark.

White-throated Bee-eater is a seasonally nomadic species which wanders the most at the beginning and end of the rainy season in the Sahel, and it is likely that due to the unseasonal rains this individual ranged further than most. Anecdotal reports suggest that the rains are particularly late this year, and this bee-eater species would usually be on the savannah to the south of the arid regions by now.

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African migratory bird count, January 2014

This video is called Moroccan Birds Mini Documentary.

Translated from BirdLife in the Netherlands:

Morocco is also a participant in Flyway bird count

Morocco is also a participant in the simultaneous counting of wading birds along the Atlantic Flyway route, which will be in January 2014. The census is needed to understand the problems for wading birds along their route from Greenland to Africa.

Morocco is of great importance for migrating wading birds. There are many areas where waders have an interim pause before they continue south flying to their wintering areas along the coast.

Besides Morocco also Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde will participate in the first West African simultaneous count since eight years. The counts are needed to increase understanding wintering wading birds in West Africa better.

Spanish governmental anti-refugee cruelty

This video is called Real Voices — Interview with Um Jamal, Syrian refugee.

By Vicky Short:

Spanish government strengthens anti-migrant border fence

29 November 2013

The right wing Popular Party (PP) government of Spain has taken the decision to strengthen the border fence separating its enclave port city of Melilla from the rest of Morocco in North Africa. It will be covered with an anti-climbing mesh and topped with a new concertina razor-wire, designed to rip and grab onto clothing and flesh.

The original border fence was erected around Melilla and Ceuta—the other Spanish enclave in Morocco—in 2005 by the Socialist Party (PSOE) government. It consisted of 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) of parallel three-meter (10 feet) high fences with razor-wire, regular watch posts, CCTV, spotlights, noise and movement sensors, and a road running between them for police patrols. Over the years it has been heightened to six meters and satellites and unmanned drones introduced.

A year after its construction PSOE Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero promised to remove the razor-wire after scores of people suffered horrific injuries trying to climb over the fence. It was finally removed in 2007.

The PP government has decided to reinstate the razor-wire, regardless of the consequences. The stated intention is only to install it in vulnerable areas, but the government delegate in Melilla, Abdelmalik El Barkani, has made clear that if the police decide it is necessary, it will be installed along the whole 11 kilometres. El Barkani cynically stated, “I do not like that the concertina is there, I do not like that the fence is there, I do not like to have problems with illegal immigration, but what is clear is that there is a mandate that must be met by the Forces of State Security, and that is that the SSA [Sub-Saharan Africans] must fail to get in.”

Further horrific methods are being prepared. As the fence gets more dangerous to climb, migrant workers are attempting to reach Ceuta and Melilla by swimming along the coast. In order to prevent this, the Spanish government is planning to build a floating dock and fence that extends 200 meters into the sea with an underwater net to catch anyone attempting to dive under.

The reinstatement of the razor wire is being justified by the government on the basis that the number of people attempting to cross the border has doubled to 3,000 between January and mid-September this year, compared to 1,610 during the same period last year. A Moroccan NGO, the Rif Association of Human Rights, reports that about 40 migrants have been killed over the past two years.

The rise in migrant workers attempting the deadly crossing into Ceuta and Melilla is the result of the terrible conditions being created by the imperialist countries through intensification of predatory wars, repression, ethnic cleansing, civil wars, hunger and poverty. There has been a marked increase in the number of migrants from Syria, Egypt, Tunisia and Mali.

More and more people are forced to risk their lives in a struggle to survive. Hundreds have died of thirst in the desert that surrounds the enclaves, drowning in the sea after their overcrowded, rickety boats capsize and being shot at by border guards. Most of those who successfully cross the borders are then apprehended, put in overcrowded detention centres and eventually deported back to their places of origin where they are often detained again and tortured.

Melilla and Ceuta are the European Union’s only land borders with Africa. It relies on the Spanish government to ensure it patrols effectively to prevent people from immigrating to the rest of Europe. For this purpose Spain works in close collaboration with the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (Frontex), which was established in 2004.

Frontex held a conference this October in Warsaw that gathered 200 people and speakers from all over the world. In addition to the EU member nations, speakers came from countries as diverse as Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Georgia and Rwanda. The conference also included a Biometric Examiner from the Police Forensics of Interpol.

The Frontex conference is just one example of how immigration controls and the search for ever-more sophisticated and repressive measures to enforce them have become a global business, as well as a global operation. The main purpose is to divide the working class at a time when the internationalisation of their struggles becomes an essential question. It is used to blame workers from other countries for the crisis of capitalism as it is expressed in each country.

This video says about itself:

Between The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea

27 March 2012

Thousands of desperate Undocumented African Migrants seek a better life in Spain. Living under virtual siege on the wooded Gourougourou Mountain, overlooking the Spanish colonial enclave of Melilla in North Africa, they plan nightly raids to “cross the wire” into European territory. Despite the hardship, success often means terrible labour exploitation as workers in southern Spain’s booming agribusiness and the notorious plastic greenhouses of El Ejido, near Almeria.

Good Moroccan bald ibis news

This video from 2010 is called Northern bald ibis release in Syria.

After sad bald ibis news from Syria this year … fortunately, better news from Morocco.

From BirdLife:

Record season for Morocco’s Northern Bald Ibises

Mon, Sep 16, 2013

The largest fully wild population of Critically Endangered Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita has had its second most successful breeding season on record, with the number of breeding pairs at its highest since surveys began in the 1980s. The colonies at Souss-Massa National Park and nearby Tamri, in south-west Morocco, fledged 148 young, bringing the total population at the end of the breeding season to 443 birds.

Once widespread in North Africa and Europe, the Northern Bald Ibis survives in two disjunct populations. Well to the east of the Moroccan birds is the semi-captive population at Birecik in Turkey, and south of that a tiny remnant population at Palmyra, Syria.

Management and conservation of the Moroccan population is supervised by SEO/BirdLife (BirdLife in Spain) in conjunction with High Commission for Water and Forest and Fight against desertification and GREPOM (BirdLife in Morocco). SEO/BirdLife has hired seven wardens to protect and monitor the colonies, with funding from HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, the Species Champion, through the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme. The wardens provide daily fresh water for the birds, and prevent disturbance. This year they succeeded in persuading a persistent group of anglers to move away from one sub-colony in the National Park, allowing the ibises to begin nesting.

The Tamri colony commenced breeding in early February. In contrast to 2012, when breeding at Tamri failed completely, possibly because of low rainfall, 60 pairs fledged 71 young. In Souss Massa National Park breeding did not begin until the first week of March. One sub-colony of six pairs was prevented from nesting by a Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus, which flew so regularly over the nest ledge that the birds abandoned it. The remaining 53 pairs produced 77 fledglings.

The success may be partly due to better weather, including 200mm of rainfall between September 2012 and April 2013, which improved prey availability.

“Our monitoring  shows that the Northern Bald Ibis population at Souss-Massa contains the largest number of breeding pairs recorded since conservation of this species began in 1993, and certainly since the first surveys of the species in the early 1980s”, said SEO/BirdLife’s Jorge Fernández Orueta. “Only in 2004 was the number of fledged young higher, and if it were not for the territorial behaviour of the Lanner Falcon, this year would probably have exceeded it.”

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Help Moroccan bird conservationists with your wildlife photos

This video is called Finding Birds in Morocco – the deserts.

Moroccan bird photographer, photo by Barend van GemerdenGREPOM, the BirdLife organisation in Morocco, is teaching its members to photograph the birds and other wildlife in their country, GREPOM’s Dutch sister organisation writes. These photos are for making more Moroccans enthusiastic for conserving birds.

About the photography course for GREPOM members:

With great results, because: yellow-legged gulls flying, courting white-headed ducks and pictures of the nature reserve Sidi Boughaba full of birds. The passion splashed from the photos. Or, as student Abdellatif Bayed said it: “Now I can manage at last to capture the beauty which I see in nature in my photos and to show that to my family and friends.”

However, these GREPOM photographers learned their skills only very recently. GREPOM does not have enough photos yet.

So, BirdLife in the Netherlands continues:

Call: send us your bird / wildlife photo from Morocco

There are probably many more people who have made good wildlife photos during a visit to Morocco. If you want to contribute to the work of GREPOM, then we ask you to send pictures of Moroccan birds and nature in high resolution by eMail to GREPOM will be able to use these photos then.

Among the contributors there will be raffle, with a chance to win five twenty euro gift vouchers for the store of BirdLife in the Netherlands.

We will love to see your photos arrive!

Most readers of this blog are not from the Netherlands. Still, maybe some of them have made wildlife photos in Morocco. So, maybe they can help too.