The US isn't the only country with an illegal immigrant problem
Some news out of Morocco.
OUJDA, Morocco - Morocco began deporting would-be immigrants Monday, with a flight carrying 140 Senegalese taking off for Dakar after hundreds of Africans stormed razor-wire border fences in recent weeks.
The Royal Air Maroc flight took off from Oujda, in northeast Morocco. Moroccan police also were aboard, although the passengers were not handcuffed.
The Africans were picked up around Morocco, including near Spanish enclaves on the northern Moroccan coast that have been rushed by the waves of immigrants.
Morocco is the gateway to Europe for many sub-Saharan Africans fleeing poverty and has been at the center of the immigration crisis, with at least a dozen Africans killed as they rushed the border fences around the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.
A second flight carrying another 140 Senegalese was to take off for Dakar later Monday.
Moroccan authorities also were looking to charter Boeing 747s to fly home some 600 Malians, as well as more Senegalese, in the coming days.
Moroccan authorities had in the past dropped off illegal immigrants at the country's desert border with Algeria — a practice that provoked criticism from humanitarian groups.
Former French Health Minister Bernard Kouchner, a founder of the Paris-based aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres, told Europe-1 radio Monday that Morocco had abandoned at least
400 Africans caught near Melilla, leaving them stranded with "nothing to eat."
"It makes you sick to think that ... people are dying at this moment looking for water in the desert," Kouchner said, adding his group, also known in English as Doctors Without Borders, has seen them.
Mohammed Ibrahimi, a top government official for the Oujda region, said the crisis requires an international response.
"The problem of sub-Saharan immigration surpasses Morocco," he said. "What is happening today should worry the international community, starting with the European Union. This is a universal problem, a phenomenon that will grow."
Neighboring Algeria's Foreign Ministry made a similar point, saying in a statement carried by the official APS news agency Sunday that police action, though needed to curb illegal immigration, was "insufficient in such a sensitive and complex situation."
Algeria called for international cooperation to find solutions for "countries of origins, countries of transit and countries taking in." It noted that nearly 6,000 illegal immigrants were caught on Algerian territory in 2004.
Even as some Africans are sent back, others are still trying to get to Europe.
Spanish police reports say some 3,000 sub-Saharan Africans have gathered at a makeshift camp just across Morocco's northeastern border with Algeria, waiting to cross the frontier and make their way to Melilla, Spain's leading newspaper El Pais said this weekend.