tclava tclava

I am an Italian freelance journalist and photographer working for several newspapers and magazines and focusing my work on the African continent, human rights, conflicts and their aftermath, environmental and social issues.

I try to tell stories both by words and images.

My works have been published by many media outlets such as Washington Post, Der Spiegel, The New Republic, Russia Today, Corriere della Sera, Vanity Fair, La Stampa, La Repubblica.

Grantee from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in 2014 for a reporting project on Rwanda, I was shortlisted in 2013 for the Prix Bayeux Calvados for War Correspondent (Young reporter award).

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Forty Years in Exile: The Western Sah...
Bir Lehlu, Morocco
By tclava
03 Mar 2015

A forgotten crisis, a conflict about to break out again, 2015 for the Saharawi people and Western Sahara can be a crucial year

A never-ending exile

When like all his fellow soldiers in the Saharawi People's Liberation Army (SPLA) 23 years ago, Bechir agreed to put away his weapons and bring to an end a twenty-year war waged against Morocco for the liberation of Western Sahara, he still had some doubts as to the wisdom of this decision.

He knew that the diplomatic route would be full of obstacles and pitfalls, but he hoped that the commitment of the international community could lead to concrete results, without more bloodshed.

But since 1991, the year of the UN-brokered ceasefire that should have paved the way to a referendum for the independence of this part of the desert, nothing, literally nothing has changed for the Saharawi people.

Bechir’s children were born in the camps to which his generation was forced to flee. They live in tents, brick houses of sand, in one of the most inhospitable areas of the whole Maghreb, in southern Algeria, between Tindouf and the border with Mauritania. A place that is a flat and stony desert, cold in winter and stifling in summer, often buffeted by strong winds that fill eyes, mouths and houses with sand. Here, among goats forced to eat plastic because they have nothing else available,  an unemployment rate that grows from year to year, the Saharawi population, made up of about 170 ,000 people, is still forced to live without a future, without prospects.

The failure of the international community is visible to all. Although a mission, MINURSO (United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara) was created especially to give life to a referendum, in 23 years it has failed to produce one. Forty years on from the beginning of their exile in Southern Algeria, even the Saharawi wonder if it is still worthwhile to wait or whether it is appropriate to take up arms again to recover what, according to what they say, belongs to them. And so the military maneuvers in the desert began, with inspections of various bases of the Saharawi People's Liberation Army by the leadership of the government of the Polisario Front.

Mohammed Lamin Elbouhali, Defense Minister of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), does not mince words to explain the thought of the Polisario Front, the political arm of the Saharawi people, on the issue: "We can not, and do not want, to wait any longer, our patience is over. We accepted the conditions imposed by the international community, we have agreed to dialogue, but it did not do anything. Morocco continues to provoke and not to accept even to discuss the electoral base for this referendum in which now no one believes. We are ready to take up arms to regain our land”.

You can breathe  the impatience going around among the refugee camps. You can breathe it in Smara, in Rabouni, in Auserd, you can breathe it talking with seniors who participated in the bloody war against Rabat, but also exchanging views with those young people that have never seen their homeland but who are aware that in these fields, for them, there are no prospects.

The collapse of humanitarian aid

For decades the Saharawi population has depended solely on humanitarian aid. Food, medicine, clothes, everything comes to the refugee camps in containers from the four corners of the world. But due to the economic crisis that has hit Western countries in recent years, to the explosion of war emergencies in other regions, and to the fact that this crisis, the crisis of Western Sahara and the Saharawi people, has continued for four decades,  latterly humanitarian aid has collapsed.

"In the last four years the donations and the commitment of the international community have been reduced significantly,” - says Brahim Mojtar, Minister of Cooperation. “ We can even say they have plummeted dramatically. This is hugely damaging for a population like the Saharawis that depends for all aspects on humanitarian aid. Eight million euro per year would be enough to feed everyone, a pittance, but we find it hard to scrape it together. But the real danger for us is not to die of hunger, the real risk for us is falling by the wayside. Such a long crisis, a conflict that has continued for so many years, inevitably leads to lower interest from the international community towards our cause and our sufferings and this is just what Morocco wants. And that's why we, as Polisario Front’s members, as Saharawis, can not risk waiting any longer in vain, unable to see our friends and our relatives who live in the occupied territories beyond the Moroccan Wall”.

The wall of shame

Two thousand seven hundred kilometers of mud, sand and barbed wire stretch, from the Algerian border to the Mauritanian one. On one side are the “liberated” territories controlled by the Polisario Front, on the other the "occupied" territories under the reign of Mohammed VI. On one side lies the desert, occasional villages, nomad tents, and nothing more, on the other there are rich deposits of phosphate, some of the most fish-rich waters of the planet and oil, so much oil that the US oil company Kosmos will shortly begin drilling offshore. In the middle is, a strip of land that is one of the most heavily mined in the world, which has already claimed 2,500 victims, both military and civilian.

By s ome estimates the number of land mines and anti-tank devices placed near the wall, on the side controlled by the Polisario Front, could be around 7 and 10 million. Among these, thousands of unexploded ordnance and cluster bombs that every year injure, and kill, dozens of people, mostly nomads that in those areas graze their flocks, and children who mistake the ordnance for toys.

"I was grazing the goats in the area close to the wall, not far from Mehaires, it had rained so I had to move a bit forward because in that area there was more water. I placed my foot on the ground, I realized I’d stepped on something but I couldn’t do anything. And so I lost a leg" says Embarel Mohamed, in his grocery store in the February 27 refugees camp. The conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front, albeit muted by a shaky cease-fire, continues to claim victims then, in the silence of the media that seem to have forgotten about a crisis for which the entire international community has a huge responsibility.

In the “occupied” territories, so formally in Moroccan territory, the Saharawi community – numbering over 300 thousand people - lives scattered among the cities of Layyoune, Dakhla, Smara, Boujdour, discriminated by the institutions of Rabat and the Moroccan population. Violence against the Saharawi by security forces in Morocco is almost daily. Those Saharawi that demonstrate in the street for the independence of Western Sahara, about the difficult living conditions and against the repression are beaten, arrested, often tortured, and finally sentenced by military courts with up to life imprisonment.

During the war thousands of Saharawis disappeared into thin air from the territories under Moroccan control, and many of them, almost four hundred, are still missing. But the disappearances of activists are not a thing of the past. Associations like Afapredesa (Asociación de Familiares de Desaparecidos y Presos Sahrawis) denounce new and continuing disappearances of activists, protesters, youngsters and the elderly. Many of them try to escape and get over the wall that separates Morocco from the part of Western Sahara controlled by the Polisario Front, but few succeed in doing so because the control of the Moroccan government is rigid and the area is full of dangers, primarily mines. Despite the complaints and appeals of several NGOs and associations that invite the international community to take action against Morocco for human rights violations, the MINURSO mission is one of the few in the world that has no power on human rights issues.

A new challenge

Only sand, rocks, and the dark. And nothing more. And it is in this darkness that envelops the night in Western Sahara that smugglers, drug traffickers and terrorists prowl, in addition to the old cars of the SPLA. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Movement for the uniqueness of the Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), Ansar Eddine, are just some of the acronyms that in recent years, have seared this strip of Africa with bombings and kidnappings. They exploit these stretches of sand, these no man's lands. The meeting with the jihadist for the Saharawi community was sudden, shocking. One night in October 2011, a jeep, gunfire, and three volunteers, two Spaniards and an Italian woman, were kidnapped and taken at full speed across the border with Mali. This kidnapping was to have a happy ending (the three were released after nine months of imprisonment) but it represents an important watershed in this arid land already stricken by years of conflict.

"Before the kidnapping of the three aid workers we thought that the phenomenon of Islamic terrorism wouldn’t have touched us” said Sidi Augal, the commander of the Fifth Military Region “We have always had only one enemy: Morocco. But now we have to fight on two fronts: to take back our land illegally occupied by Rabat and to stop the threat posed by terrorists".

In this area, where poverty and unemployment go hand in hand with the lack of interest of the international community, terrorists have found an ideal breeding ground to grow and propagate their ideas. The Polisario Front and the People's Liberation Army Saharawi know that this terrorism is a threat not only for the region but also for the stability of a community that has been living in extreme difficulty for four decades.

"The risk is that terrorist groups could be able to infiltrate refugee camps, mosques, and do proselytism, especially among the increasingly young people, who wonder what their future could be, far from their land and away from families and friends living in the territories occupied by Morocco” - explains Brahim Ahmed Mahmoud, Secretary of Security for the Polisario Front – “the Saharawi are in the midst of a whirlwind, in an explosive area, and they are the only victims of this situation. We do our best, with the means at our disposal, to check the area and ensure their safety, but until we get back our country, break down the wall that divides the Moroccan Western Sahara and embrace our brothers who suffer repression by the security forces in Rabat, everything will remain more difficult”.

Patrols day and night in the desert, roadblocks, checkpoints, stocks for the few Westerners who, despite calls by the various governments to abandon the region, have decided to continue working there, these are the means at the disposal of Polisario Front to try to curb the advance of terrorism in a region of porous borders and arid expanses difficult to control. This terrorism has touched the Saharawis deeply, because in the group of kidnappers of the three aid workers there were some (certainly one) of them, which has prompted Morocco to accuse the Polisario Front of backing the jihadists. Allegations  promptly refuted but the episode has made it even harder for the international community to commit  in the region.

Forty years have passed but little or nothing has changed for Saharawis. New challenges are piled on to unresolved conflicts and tensions are never silenced. The impatience of the youth mounts and the threat of a resumption of the armed conflict against Morocco no longer seems to be just a bogeyman used to attract the attention of the international community.

TOMASO CLAVARINO

 

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Sitting Dreams: Rwanda’s Handicapped ...
Kigali
By tclava
01 Jun 2014

Text and Photos by: Tomaso Clavarino

This is a story of former Tutsi and Hutu victims and perpetrators of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda who now fight together as a volleyball team towards one goal - to reach the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The net is made of plastic tape, the same kind used to delimit the area in-play, and the court is a layer of bumpy cement. Jean Bosco arrives with a backpack and sits on the lawn surrounding the playground. He pulls out a volley ball and starts to change his clothes. He is built like a professional sportsman: tall, broad-shouldered, well-defined muscles. He could be a professional volleyball player, but he is not.

Jean Bosco was never able to play pro ball because he is without a leg. When he was eight years-old, he stood on a mine while he was grazing cows in a field near his home in Butare. It was 1996, two years after the end of the Genocide that shocked a country and left 800 thousand dead in only three months.

The 27 year-old always wanted to become a volleyball player, but he felt fate was mocking him. "I had abandoned any hope. Without a leg in a country like Rwanda, it is difficult to move forward,” he said, removing his prosthesis and putting on a workout t-shirt. “I never thought I’d able to resume playing with a ball like when I was little. But one day, I heard about the Rwandan national sitting volleyball team, and I contacted them."

Since joining the team in 2002 Jean Bosco has not stopped playing, becoming the strength of his club team, the Gisagara Sports Club. They train in this cement field in the outskirts of Butare, the same field the Rwanda national team uses. The national sitting volleyball team was born a decade ago and quickly became a symbol of rebirth and reconciliation in a country where the wounds of war are still deep and the tensions still strong.

Most of the players of the team suffered amputations and mutilations during the Genocide. Others suffer from polio. They train like professionals, three times a week in their respective provinces and then, depending on the schedule of the national team, they all gather in Kigali for team training sessions in the sports hall next to the national stadium.

Soul, captain and founder of the team is Dominique Bizimana, a former Tutsi soldier who lost his left leg during the violence of 1994, when, with the Rwanda Patriotic Front, he helped to liberate the country from the Hutu government responsible for the massacres.

“Before I took up the guns, I was a promising player of Rwandan volleyball,” he said during a break in his training, “then came the war that took away, in addition to the leg, even my dreams. I approached sports for disabled people in the beginning of the new millennium, and I discovered sitting volleyball. I talked with the leaders of the Rwandan Federation and we tried to create a team. Because in the country there are many people who have suffered amputations and mutilations during the war, it was not easy to find the athletes.”

Dominique began going around the country, in villages and cities, talking to those who might be interested, and slowly he managed to form the team.

"We wanted a team open to all, Hutu and Tutsi, victims and perpetrators of the Genocide,” he said. “We wanted to create a team that could be a symbol of rebirth, of hope, reconciliation; and so it was."

The vice captain of the national team, Jean Rukundo, was also a former soldier - but on the opposite side, the Hutus. He also lost a leg during the war, and it was Dominique who recruited him for the team.

"I erased his past. I do not care,” Dominique said. “He was strong, and I asked him if he wanted to be part of the team. He said yes, and from that time he never left the field.”

Jean and Dominique have become good friends, and sometimes they joke about their past. They laugh and dream together.

"We dreamed of going to the Paralympics in London when we set up the national team,” Jean said, “and we succeeded. In a few years we have become one of the strongest sitting volleyball teams in Africa. Now we will fight to qualify for a second Paralympic qualification, in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.”

Under the neon lights of the sports hall in Kigali, the men sweat and train. They stretch, and train near the net. They scream and incite each other on the court, and then they go to drink beers together after training. They have forgotten the past, totally enraptured by the sport and their desire for rebirth. However, the prosthesis resting on the ground on the sidelines remain a warning in a country that is trying to look ahead and forget the horrors of genocide.

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Spain's Southern Fortress: The Africa...
Melilla
By tclava
15 Jun 2014

TEXTLESS and SUBTITLED VIDEO AVAILABLE

By: Tomaso Clavarino

Mamadou sits on a rock, his eyes turned towards the sea, the hood on his head to protect him from the wind: here on mount Gurugu, the wind blows all day long. He is seventeen years old and comes from Mali, and since two months ago he has been one of about four-thousand inhabitants of what is a veritable tent city on the slopes of an impervious mountain, exposed to every kind of hardship. They survive with tents made of plastic bags and branches, blankets retrieved from garbage cans, small bonfires to keep warm, and nothing more. There’s no water on Gurugu.

Fleeing from war, poverty, violence and starvation, Mamadou had crossed Mauritania and Algeria before reaching this mountain that stands behind the Moroccan city of Nador and overlooking the Spanish enclave of Melilla, Europe’s back door into Africa. This is a real village nestled among the trees and clouds, a sea of makeshift tents, packed with migrants from nearly every corner of Sub Saharan Africa. There are Malians, Senegalese, Nigerians, Cameroonians, Liberians, Ghanaians, and all have arrived on Gurugu with a single goal: to jump the wall that divides Morocco from Melilla.

The wall is a triple barrier, 12 kilometers long and controlled by dozens of cameras. It is constantly patrolled both by the Moroccan police and the Spanish Guardia Civil, a seemingly impregnable fortress, but not for these people, on the run from a harsh life and dreaming of a better future. Three or four times a week migrants living on Gurugu descend the mountain in waves, trying to climb over the fence to reach Europe. Those who make it end up at the CETI (Centro de Estancia Temporal de Inmigrantes), a first aid center on the verge of exploding with over two thousand people, crammed into a space conceived for four hundred and eighty, waiting to know their fate, while the others are hunted down by the Guardia Civil and returned immediately to Morocco where they are left in the hands of the Moroccan soldiers.

Returning these men to Morocco is “a clear violation of international law” according to José Palazon, an activist from Melilla. “[This] exposes migrants to violence in a country that doesn’t respect human rights,” he says. “Whenever there is an attempt to jump the wall hundreds of migrants are injured, not by the iron fences, but from the gunbarrels of the Moroccan police.”

Indeed the Moroccan police are one of the biggest fears of the migrants: both for those dwelling on Gurugu, and for countless others hiding in the forests and in the suburbs of Moroccan cities, all waiting to reach Europe. According to one estimate, there are around eighty-thousand sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco.

“Almost every day at dawn the Moroccan soldiers leave their base at the foot of Gurugu, come to our camp and destroy everything,” says Idriss, who can barely walk after being severely beaten. “They pull down the tents, set fire to them, throw away the food, steal the little money we have, our phones. If they can catch anyone, they arrest him and beat him, and then take him to Rabat. We fall over the cliffs, many of us fracture arms and legs, we are hurt and we have no medicine to treat us. Over the years we have stopped counting the dead.”

Mamadou bears the signs of his last beating on his left forearm, a large wound that has recently healed.

Only three or four girls have the courage to live on the mountain instead of joining the women and children hidden in the woods near Selouane, at the foot of the other side of the mountain. There, they wait to board small boats to reach Melilla’s beach. Not all migrants try to enter Melilla by jumping the wall. Those who do so are the most desperate, the ones who have spent all the money they had for the trip, money that was stolen by the police, by the mafias that here control the smuggling of migrants. Those who can afford to try to pass by sea, or by buying false passports. Others pay two thousand euros for a car ride. Not in the passenger seat, but In the false bottom of a car, near the engine, near the exhaust pipe.

“A huge risk,” Juan Antonio Martin Rivera, a lieutenant of the Guardia Civil, says. “These people remain without air and in a high temperature for hours. As far as we know, it is only here that migrants are trying to cross the border in this way.”

All these migrants have a dream: Europe. A Europe which, however, doesn’t want them, and turns a blind eye to the – both Moroccan and Spanish – violence as many NGOs point out. It was only two months ago that the Civil Guard, under pressure from NGOs, local associations and the press, decided to abandon the rubber bullets that over the years have seriously injured hundreds of migrants.

According to Abdelmalik El Barkawi, delegate of the Spanish Government in Melilla, “the enclave is facing an unprecedented migratory pressure” and perhaps this is why the Government of Mariano Rajoy has said nothing about the new barrier that the Moroccan government has begun building around Melilla. According to Spanish newspapers, the dug-out barbed-wire-filled trench has been financed with part of the fifty-million euros that Spain requested from the EU in order to strengthen its borders.

“These reports were first confirmed and then denied by the government in Madrid,” said Father Esteban Velazquez, a Jesuit priest who is among the few to provide assistance to migrants on the Moroccan side.

Left to themselves, trapped at the gates of Europe, and helpless victims of ongoing violence, sub-Saharan migrants who do finally make it to Spain are deported illegally, according to Tereza Vazquez Del Rey, a lawyer at CEAR, the Spanish Commission for Aid to Refugees.
“When a migrant is able to pass the first barrier, he is formally in Spanish territory and therefore can’t be brought back to Morocco,” she said. “He has the right to have a lawyer and a translator. He can apply for asylum and can’t be deported to a country where his life is endangered.”

A hundred kilometers from Nador and Melilla is the city of Oujda, a transit area for many migrants on the Algerian border. Here, life for sub-Saharan Africans appears to have improved since September 2013 when the Moroccan government decided to move migrants arrested in Nador to Rabat, rather than to Oujda.

“Previously violence by the police used to be [a daily occurrence]” said Abdullah, a 35 year-old from Burkina Faso. “Many people are starting to realize, after several failed attempts, that going to Europe is really too dangerous, and that it is not worth risking your life. So a hundred of us have applied for a residence permit in Morocco. We want to try to live and work here.”

The majority of the migrants in Oujda live at the FAC, a small sort of camp made up of tents set up in the Mohamed I University. They are helped by the students and the climate is quite calm. However journalists are not welcome here, as there the Nigerian mafia that controls the smuggling of migrants and women has a strong presence in the camp.

So why is the situation for migrants so different between Oujda and Nador?

Father Esteban Velazquez has no doubt: “Because in Nador, and in nearby Beni Ensar, there is the frontier, and the Spanish government has delegated the role of the sheriff to the Moroccan police,” he said.

Violence, mafia, arrests, nothing seems to be able to blunt the will power of these people, of these migrants who have spent five years of their lives hiding in Morocco and trying to pass the wall of Melilla.

“A friend of mine, Moussa, was here on Gurugu for five years, and has tried sixty-seven times to jump over the wall,” Ibrahim said while playing cards in a tent used as a casino on the slopes of Gurugu. “The sixty-eighth he made it. They can treat us like animals, beat us, steal everything from us, hurt us, even kill us, but they don’t know what we are running away from, and they don’t know how strong our desire is to reach Europe. Everyone here dreams of having a pair of wings, but if God wills it, sooner or later, even without them, we will make it.”

Media created

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Fort Years in Exile Multimedia DEMO
Tindouf
By tclava
19 Mar 2015

A demonstration of the multimedia package of Forty Years in Exile, for web.

FULLY CODED MULTIMEDIA STORY AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

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Western Sahara 20
Bir Lehlu, Morocco
By tclava
27 Nov 2014

A decorative light in the shape of the Western Sahara hangs in the desert near Bir Lehlu.

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Western Sahara 18
Bir Lehlu, Morocco
By tclava
28 Nov 2014

Bir Lehlu is a village in the part of the Western Sahara claimed by Morocco.

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Western Sahara 19
Tindouf, Algeria
By tclava
25 Nov 2014

A woman dresses in festive attire and waves a Western Sahara flag during a rally for the independence of the Western Sahara.

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Western Sahara 17
Tindouf, Algeria
By tclava
26 Nov 2014

A man stands beside his broken-down car in the Rabouni camp.

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Western Sahara 13
Tifariti, Morocco
By tclava
27 Nov 2014

Counter terrorism patrols are carried out regularly in the areas of the Western Sahara where Moroccan-claimed land borders Algeria and Mauritania.

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Western Sahara 11
Bir Lehlu, Morocco
By tclava
27 Nov 2014

A soldier waves back to his colleagues during a counter terrorism patrol in the Western Sahara desert.

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Western Sahara 12
Tifariti, Morocco
By tclava
28 Nov 2014

Soldiers line up in rank and file near Tifariti, in the Moroccan "buffer zone."

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Western Sahara 09
Tindouf, Algeria
By tclava
26 Nov 2014

Containers full of aid are lined up in the desert near the Rabouni refugee camp.

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Western Sahara 05
Tindouf, Algeria
By tclava
25 Nov 2014

A soldier carries a SPLA flag near the Rabouni camp near Tindouf, Algeria.

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Western Sahara 02
Tindouf, Algeria
By tclava
24 Nov 2014

Women sift through clothing at a street market in the Smara refugee camp.

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Western Sahara 03
Tindouf, Algeria
By tclava
25 Nov 2014

A Saharawi military parade is under way in the desert near the 27 February refugee camp.

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Western Sahara 04
Tindouf, Algeria
By tclava
25 Nov 2014

Women join the parade in support of independence for the Western Sahara.

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Western Sahara 01
Tindouf, Algeria
By tclava
24 Nov 2014

The Smara refugee camp in southern Algeria is home to thousands of Western Saharan refugees.

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Spain's Southern Fortress: The Africa...
Melilla
By tclava
03 Jan 2015

A TEXTLESS NATURAL SOUND REPORT
VERSION WITH MUSIC TRACK AVAILABLE HERE: https://transterramedia.com/media/53117

Surrounded by a triple barrier 12 km long, controlled by dozens of cameras and continuous patrols, a small Spanish enclave in Moroccan territory called Melilla is – according to the Spanish government – a fortress under siege. It is a fortress which in recent years has faced increasing migratory pressure that has reached “unprecedented levels” according to Abdelmalik El Barkani, Madrid’s representative in Melilla.

Hiding in the forests of Oujda, Nador, and Selouane, nearly eighty-thousand migrants, mainly from sub-Saharan countries, are waiting for the right moment to slip across the frontier. Some go by boat or in a secret compartment of a car if they can afford it, but the majority try to jump the barriers surrounding Melilla. Spain and Europe stand silently by while every week hundreds of migrants risk their lives and allegedly face violent reprisals of the Moroccan police who they say beat, torture, rob and kill them. Meanwhile, Morocco is building a new barrier, a three meter deep ditch filled with barbed wire. Part of the 50 million euro project is reportedly funded by money Spain acquired from the EU, an accusation made by Spanish activists and media and never denied by Rajoy’s government.

A few kilometres from these barriers, on the slopes of mount Gurugu, in the forests overlooking Melilla, nearly four thousand migrants are waiting for the right time to jump across into the Spanish enclave and enter the CETI (Centro de Estancia Temporal de Inmigrantes), a collapsing first aid structure with two thousand people already inside. Gurugu seems a circle of Hell, where migrants live in inhuman conditions. In tents made of plastic bags, without water and food, heated only by firewood collected in the bush. Sought out by the Moroccan military, they have to hide like animals in the forest, digging in the garbage to find something to eat, walking miles on slippery rocks to drink. Systematically, every two days or so, at six in the morning, the soldiers break into Gurugu, destroying tents, burning, stealing what little the migrants were able to put aside, beating them and forcing people to jump down from the crags, arresting and bringing the detainees to Rabat.

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Spain's Southern Fortress: The Africa...
Melilla
By tclava
10 Jun 2014

A TEXTLESS NATURAL SOUND REPORT WITH MUSIC TRACK
VERSION WITHOUT MUSIC AVAILABLE HERE: https://transterramedia.com/media/53588

Surrounded by a triple barrier 12 km long, controlled by dozens of cameras and continuous patrols, a small Spanish enclave in Moroccan territory called Melilla is – according to the Spanish government – a fortress under siege. It is a fortress which in recent years has faced increasing migratory pressure that has reached “unprecedented levels” according to Abdelmalik El Barkani, Madrid’s representative in Melilla.

Hiding in the forests of Oujda, Nador, and Selouane, nearly eighty-thousand migrants, mainly from sub-Saharan countries, are waiting for the right moment to slip across the frontier. Some go by boat or in a secret compartment of a car if they can afford it, but the majority try to jump the barriers surrounding Melilla. Spain and Europe stand silently by while every week hundreds of migrants risk their lives and allegedly face violent reprisals of the Moroccan police who they say beat, torture, rob and kill them. Meanwhile, Morocco is building a new barrier, a three meter deep ditch filled with barbed wire. Part of the 50 million euro project is reportedly funded by money Spain acquired from the EU, an accusation made by Spanish activists and media and never denied by Rajoy’s government.

A few kilometres from these barriers, on the slopes of mount Gurugu, in the forests overlooking Melilla, nearly four thousand migrants are waiting for the right time to jump across into the Spanish enclave and enter the CETI (Centro de Estancia Temporal de Inmigrantes), a collapsing first aid structure with two thousand people already inside. Gurugu seems a circle of Hell, where migrants live in inhuman conditions. In tents made of plastic bags, without water and food, heated only by firewood collected in the bush. Sought out by the Moroccan military, they have to hide like animals in the forest, digging in the garbage to find something to eat, walking miles on slippery rocks to drink. Systematically, every two days or so, at six in the morning, the soldiers break into Gurugu, destroying tents, burning, stealing what little the migrants were able to put aside, beating them and forcing people to jump down from the crags, arresting and bringing the detainees to Rabat.

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Sitting Dreams 17
Kigali, Rwanda
By tclava
03 Feb 2014

During the Rwandan genocide, hundreds of Tutsis sought shelter and protection from Hutu attacks in Kigali stadium.

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Sitting Dreams 18
Kigali, Rwanda
By tclava
06 Feb 2014

A player stretches during training in Kigali.

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Sitting Dreams 16
Kigali, Rwanda
By tclava
05 Feb 2014

A prosthetic leg belonging to one of the players of the Rwandan national sitting volleyball team lies on the sidelines while he practices.

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Sitting Dreams 15
Kigali, Rwanda
By tclava
06 Feb 2014

Michel lives with polio. Sitting volleyball is an important outlet for him, and a chance to participate in the sports culture of his country.

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Sitting Dreams 14
Kigali, Rwanda
By tclava
03 Feb 2014

Players drill their ball-handling during a training session in Kigali.

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Sitting Dreams 12
Kigali, Rwanda
By tclava
03 Feb 2014

Dominique Bizimana, a former Tutsi fighter of the “Rwanda Patriotic Front," is the founder of the sitting volley team.

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Sitting Dreams 13
Kigali, Rwanda
By tclava
04 Feb 2014

The national sitting volleyball team gathers in a gym in Kigali to practice with the full team.

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Sitting Dreams 11
Butare, Rwanda
By tclava
07 Feb 2014

The sitting volleyball team has a scrimmage match during their training.

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Sitting Dreams 10
Butare, Rwanda
By tclava
05 Feb 2014

Players of the Rwandan sitting volley national team train together on Butare.

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Sitting Dreams 09
Butare, Rwanda
By tclava
07 Feb 2014

For many amputees, sport is the only chance to do something in a country that, despite an interesting economic growth, has a huge rate of unemployment.

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Sitting Dreams 07
Butare, Rwanda
By tclava
30 Jan 2014

A Hutu player lost his leg during the Rwandan Genocide.

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Sitting Dreams 08
Butare, Rwanda
By tclava
13 Feb 2014

Sitting volley is a widely-played Paralympic sport, and Rwanda is one of Africa's best teams.

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Sitting Dreams 06
Butare, Rwanda
By tclava
08 Feb 2014

Two young players, both with amputations, help each other stretch during training.

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Sitting Dreams 05
Butare, Rwanda
By tclava
10 Feb 2014

The players on the team practice different parts of the country so that players from every region can have the chance to be part of the national team.

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Sitting Dreams 03
Butare, Rwanda
By tclava
07 Feb 2014

Many players on the national sitting volleyball team have suffered amputations during the Rwandan Genocide.

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Sitting Dreams 04
Butare, Rwanda
By tclava
07 Feb 2014

Sitting volley players stretch during a training session Butare. In the team there are both Hutus and Tutsis.

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Sitting Dreams 02
Butare, Rwanda
By tclava
05 Feb 2014

This concrete slab in a playground in Butare, Rwanda, serves as a court for sitting volley players.

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Sitting Dreams 01
Butare, Rwanda
By tclava
30 Jan 2014

Jean Rukundo, a former Hutu fighter is one of the key players of the Rwandan sitting volley national team.

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Southern Fortress: Melilla 12
Melilla
By tclava
13 Jun 2014

Mamadou, a migrant living on Mount Gurugu shows scars from wounds he says were inflicted on him by Moroccan police during a raid of the camp.

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Southern Fortress: Melilla 13
Melilla
By tclava
09 Jun 2014

A migrant poses for a photo inside Melilla near CETI (Centro de Estancia Temporal por Inmigrantes), a center dedicated to helping immigrants.

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Southern Fortress: Melilla 11
Melilla
By tclava
12 Jun 2014

A night view of the wall surrounding Melilla near Beni Ensar, Morocco.

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Southern Fortress: Melilla 09
Melilla
By tclava
05 Jun 2014

A group of migrant men from the Ivory Coast build a fire to stay warm. During winter, Mount Gurugu where they have set up a temporary camp can see freezing temperatures.

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Southern Fortress: Melilla 10
Melilla
By tclava
11 Jun 2014

Migrants rest in makeshift tents in the forests overlooking the Spanish enclave of Melilla, where they wish to seek a better life in Europe.

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Southern Fortress: Melilla 07
Melilla
By tclava
04 Jun 2014

Melilla's wall at night. The triple barrier dividing Spain from Morocco is 12 kilometers long, and is under high surveillance by Spanish authorities.