No Name Kitchen are helping in Ceuta and Melilla. Both are Spanish-controlled ports on the shore of Africa.
Today, Ceuta and Melilla are part of the European Union.
Neighbouring Morocco, itself a destination country for refugees and asylum seekers from further south, has a complex history. Oppression and economic problems, lack of women’s and LGBTQ rights. Around 4 million Moroccans live in poverty today.
Covid, of course, hasn’t helped. Previously, some movement between the Spanish areas and Morocco was common. This article by No Name Kitchen explains well what has happened during the pandemic and says:
“Since March 2020, when Morocco closed the borders due to Covid-19 restrictions, people from neighboring cities who previously had the right to come to Ceuta freely, have been separated from their family and friends for more than a year.
The leader of the Polisario Front of Western Sahara is in a hospital in Spain. For several weeks, the Moroccan authorities have been threatening Madrid with a political response. This relative opening of borders (forcing people to risk their lives at the sea) could be the answer. Once again, this would be a tragic use of people in order to achieve political interests.”
Vulnerable people were used as political pawns once again.
This week four young Moroccans died, trying to enter Melilla using a sewage drain. No matter how high the fences are, no matter how much control there is in the water, the struggle to achieve a more dignified life does not rest, even if it involves carrying out increasingly dangerous maneuvers.
The mourning and sadness over the death of these four young people reach the streets of Melilla, where the kids relive their own journeys.
One boy relives it even more intensely, a year ago he used the same route to enter Melilla.
"There were five of us, I was leading, guiding my companions as I knew the route of previous attempts. We were crouched, on all fours and sometimes with our chests on the ground. Everything was dark, we could only see half a meter ahead thanks to the small flashlights that we carried in our mouths. The air could not be breathed, it smelled of fecal water, bleach and there was little oxygen. We spent five hours through the darkness, accompanied by garbage, mud, rats, cockroaches, chemicals and broken glass bottles that ripped our skin. We stopped every fifteen minutes to try to breathe a little better. I fainted, I was unconscious with my whole body under the mud, I was lucky that my companions found me in time. I saw death up close, I thought I would not come out alive from that labyrinth. But my companions encouraged me, their lives depended on me who had to guide them, so I continued. Until we finally managed to enter Melilla. I have never explained this to my family, maybe I will do it when I already have my life settled, I don't know. But on that journey I died, died and was born again. "
The problems in the world are so complex, I certainly don’t pretend to understand them all, let alone to know what the answers are. But I do know that so much of the inequality that exists is avoidable. If there were fair trade deals, ethical investing, safe routes for refugees, no racism or discrimination. If people were treated with dignity and kindness instead of otherness and scorn.
Follow No Name Kitchen on Facebook and Instagram and make a donation towards their work here.