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Last Updated: Friday, 14 October 2005, 20:34 GMT 21:34 UK
African migrant tales from Melilla
African migrants living in a detention camp in the north African Spanish enclave of Melilla tell the BBC why they crossed over the double razor-wire fence from the forests of Morocco in search of a new life.

Simon Fortu, Cameroon
Simon Fortu
They sold our family land and gave the money to me

I am 19 years old and left Cameroon on 21 May 2005. I got to Melilla one week ago. My journey is quite short compared to other people's.

I stayed two months in the forest.

When you're in the forest you don't have peace of mind.

One day police come with helicopters, the next the gendarmes. You are always running, running, running.

I left all my family behind in Cameroon because we are poor. We don't have anything.

I decided to be a better person so I could lift them up in the future.

'I will do any job'

I told them that I was going to Europe so they sold our family land and gave the money to me. That was our only family land.

Migrants in Melilla detention camp
The migrants in the camp spend their days listlessly playing cards

The money took me to Morocco.

I'm not disappointed to be here in the camp.

I know I must first stay here sleeping in a tent, but I know that one day I will be sent up to big Spain.

That's where I will start up my own life.

I will do anything in Spain, any job at all.

I don't intend to go back with empty pockets. I would look like less than an ant. My family would say I squandered their money for nothing. That would be a very sad and painful encounter.

Mohamed Balde, Guinea
Mohamed Balde
News of expulsions back to Morocco is spreading, causing concern in the camp

Everyone here in the camp, all of us, we'd rather die here than be sent back to Morocco.

Being sent back to Morocco is certain death.

My friends and I spent two years getting here.

We spent nine months in the forest, living off the bits of food Moroccans gave us.

Can you understand what it's like to live like that - the police with their knives and machetes attacking us?

Patrick Thomas, The Gambia
Patrick Thomas
I was studying agriculture and economics in Gambia

In Morocco it's very hard to live. No food, no place to sleep.

And the police when they catch you they take your money from you, they torture you and in prison they only give you half a piece of bread each day.

My arm is bandaged because I caught my arm on the barbed wire as I was climbing over the fence.

And the Moroccan police beat us. The Spanish police just catch us and take us back.

In my country people live in poor conditions.

If you're like me and your parents are not alive and you are taking care of your sisters, you must try and come to Europe.

Risking life

I was studying agriculture and economics in Gambia.

My father died and my mother was taking care of my schooling but then she died. Then my older sister took care of me but three years ago she had an accident and she also died.

So now I'm the only one taking care of my family.

I have no one to help me, but a lot of people I must help.

I have four sisters and three brothers living there. When I am in Europe I will help them so they can continue their education.

I am willing to risk my life to get to Europe. I can't see any other solution.




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