Morocco tightens border with Algeria to stem illegal migration

Rabat, March 8, 2017 (TNE): Morocco will further tighten border control with Algeria to counter illegal migration of subsaharan Africans and arms trafficking, local media reported on Wednesday.

The regional council of Oriental (eastern) region decided to build new control points to go along with the building of 100 km border fence with Algeria, the daily Akhbar Al Yaoum said.

The same source noted that authorities have raised vigilance in the region which is regarded as a main entrance of illegal migrants from subsaharan Africa.

On Jan. 24, 2016, Algerian authorities detained more than 200 Moroccans at Algiers airport and summoned the Moroccan envoy to explain an “unusual” increase in the number of Moroccans apparently trying to cross into Libya.

The foreign ministry and sources at the airport did not confirm why the Moroccans had been held, but diplomatic relations between Algeria and Morocco are often strained over their regional influence and cooperation.

Libya in particular has become a regional concern since Islamic State militants gained ground there and called for foreign recruits, especially from North Africa.

Tunisia, sandwiched between Algeria and Libya, is building a security wall along its boundary with Libya, in an attempt to halt the flow of jihadi recruits crossing over.

Moroccan officials were not immediately available to comment on the detentions.

Algeria has become a pivotal partner in the Western fight against Islamist militancy in north and west Africa after its own 1990s war with armed Islamists that killed more than 200,000 people.

Morocco has also helped French and European intelligence agencies after the Islamist attacks on Paris last year.

More than 3,000 Tunisians and hundreds of Moroccans have left to fight for Islamic State and other groups in Syria and Iraq.

But experts say Libya has become an increasing magnet for North Africa jihadists, partly because of the country’s porous border controls and internal lawlessness.

Islamic State in Libya has steadily increased its presence, taking over Sirte, attacking oil installations and carrying out suicide attacks as the country has slipped into chaos with two rival factions and their armed groups fighting for control.(TNE)

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