EU, Morocco vow more cooperation after migrant deaths

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The European Commission vowed on Friday to step up its work with Morocco to fight people smugglers, following the deaths of 23 people at the Morocco-Spanish border two weeks ago.

EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson and Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska met with Morocco's Interior Minister Abdelouafi Laftit in Rabat to discuss the events of June 24, when hundreds of sub-Saharan migrants and asylum-seekers attempted to storm through a border post and scale a border fence into Melilla.

In addition to the deaths, more than 70 civilians were injured.

"We have discussed how we can further cooperate on fighting the smugglers, preventing such violent and dangerous situation as we saw two weeks ago," Johansson said in a video message after the meeting.

The European Commission has said in response it would enhance police cooperation with Morocco, including with joint investigations.

Videos showing Black men lying on the ground that day, some motionless and bleeding as Moroccan officers stood over them, sparked public outrage and condemnation from a United Nations chief official.

Other images showed groups of men climbing a fence while hurling rocks at Moroccan anti-riot police and then collapsing on the ground.

Both Grande-Marlaska and Johansson praised Morocco for its work, which according to the European Commission has prevented 26,000 irregular departures and "is doing an important job of containing irregular migration and should be recognized for it," according to Grande-Marlaska.

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