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Riot erupts on deportation flight taking migrant to Morocco

Spain: Migrants storm border between Morocco and Melilla

Passengers aboard a Royal Air Maroc flight from Gran Canaria to Casablanca have thwarted the deportation of a young Guinean migrant.

Sitting on the floor with a seatbelt tying his legs together, according to La Provincia, he pleaded: “Spaniards, what have I done? Open the door, I want to get off!”

The aircraft was already bound for the runway, but this outcry just before 1pm on Saturday stirred the other passengers aboard the flight into a riot.

The two Spanish National Police officers accompanying the man eventually relented and asked for take-off to be aborted. 

The Moroccan national carrier initially refused, but an emergency call grounded the aircraft at the last minute and the migrant was allowed to disembark.

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Minutes after the incident took place, lawyer Loueila Mint el Mamy posted a video on Twitter sent to her by a colleague who happened to be on the plane. 

He caption reads: “There is a Guinean boy lying on the floor in bad conditions. The Spanish police have asked for the flight to be stopped and the Moroccan company refuses.”

According to a witness, the migrant was sitting in the gangway in the last row of the plane, continually begging not to be deported back to his country because he would be imprisoned there.

Moved by his appeal, three passengers asked the man whether he had applied for asylum, to which he answered that he had not.

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The passengers then claimed the deportation procedure was illegal and got the police officers to check with their superiors, according to an EU official on board.

The crew shouted for everyone to return to their seats so that the plane could get away on schedule.

Receiving word from above, the National Police asked for the aircraft to return to the parking bay so that they could escort the man off. Despite this, the company refused and went ahead with preparations for take-off.

‌Only after a call to the EU’s Emergency and Security Coordination Centre – as well as a conversation between a passenger and the pilot – did the flight eventually abort take-off and taxi back towards the gate.

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Police sources subsequently confirmed the flight was stopped in order to “drop this person back on the island.” 

When dropping off the migrant, the crew also prevented the most vocal of the passengers involved in the fracas from rejoining the flight.

‌Spain is the southernmost tip of Europe. Across the 8-mile Strait of Gibraltar, the country has two exclaves in Morocco: Ceuta and Melilla. Both are popular entry points for migrants trying to make their way to Europe.

According to Spain’s interior ministry, between 2017 and 2021 a total of 189,025 deportation proceedings were launched against foreigners, of which 38,736 resulted in expulsion. In 2019, Spanish authorities deported 4,677 people. 

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