|Cape Verdean students targeted by radicals in Morocco|
|Cape Verdean students attending university in Morocco are concerned about the conditions to which they are subjected in the North African country, and have called for urgent action on the part of Cape Verdean authorities. The students complain of problems ranging from the translation and authentication of documents to housing and the lack of financial resources. What most worries them, however, are the racist attacks, robberies and physical assaults of which they have been the targets.
A number of students, some of whom asked to remain anonymous, told A Semana that they are afraid to walk around on the streets because of the assaults many of them have suffered. The latest case took place at approximately 7:00 pm on January 6, when Cape Verdeans Eder Pina and Helder Santos were not only mugged but physically assaulted as they were returning home from the university cafeteria, located some 40 minutes’ walking distance from the student dormitory.
“One of the students was seriously injured by a knife, with deep stab wounds on his face and arm, and is undergoing medical treatment.” As if the attacks weren’t enough, the two lost everything they were carrying at the moment of the incident: wallets, money, documents, credit cards, backpacks and mobile phones.
“This isn’t the first time this kind of criminal act has touched us, and we’re increasingly worried, because in recent times these cases have increased and become more serious every day. For example, last year a student from Guinea Bissau was brutally killed and thrown in front of a train,” says one student, who is calling for urgent actions on the part of Cape Verdean authorities.
There is also the case of a Cape Verdean student, Daniela Monteiro, who is currently considered to be in Morocco illegally after having lost all of her documents in a robbery. According to the same source, the incident was reported to Cape Verde’s Directorate General of Higher Learning and Sciences, but the student has had no information regarding the measures that may be being taken to normalize her situation.
In addition to robberies and assaults, Cape Verdean students in Morocco also complain of the racist attacks they are the targets of on the street, inside stores, in public transportation and even in universities. “Moroccans are a racist people, and many consider themselves European. They’re gruff and rude and they don’t like Blacks. They consider there to be something wrong with Blacks,” says a young Cape Verdean woman studying in the city of Rabat.
The students also reveal that last year, during the wave of manifestations that swept the city of Fez, a student from São Vicente was affected by a canister of tear gas the Moroccan police threw into the student dormitory. “We’ve lodged complaints with the police, but they’re useless. We continue to be the victims of all kinds of attacks,” reveals another student.
There are currently 108 Cape Verdean students attending university in eleven different cities in Morocco. Most are concentrated in the capital, Rabat, while others are spread among the university cities of Mohamedia, Casablanca, Kenitra, Oujda, Tanger, Fez, Settat, Salé, Marrakesh and Meknes.
Those with scholarships receive a monthly stipend of approximately 70 Euros from the Moroccan Cooperation Agency, while their parents are expected to cover their remaining expenses – food, materials, transportation and housing – in a university structure that costs them approximately 370 Euros per month.
“Those of us from the 2011/2012 group came with a promise from the Directorate General of Higher Learning and Science that our housing would be taken care of. But when we got here, we found out that only 12 of the 28 students would be able to stay in the student dormitory. We were selected randomly, six males and six females. Those who weren’t chosen were supposed to go live in rented apartments in neighborhoods where the safety situation is dubious even for Moroccans, and even more so for those who are completely unfamiliar with anything,” affirms a student in Fez.
“We don’t receive any support from our government. We don’t even have a consulate here, much less an embassy. We’re represented by the Senegalese Embassy, which is almost never able to help us, because it already has more than enough problems with its own students here. In other words, as a community we’re completely forgotten. And to make matters worse, our stipends always come a month late,” says one recently arrived student.
“We’re aware that we came here on our own free will, but we were unaware of this reality. In the name of all of the Cape Verdean students present here, we’re calling on Cape Verdean authorities to take measures before it’s too late,” says the student.
The Director General of Higher Learning and Science, Arnaldo Brito, affirmed that he has been made aware of the latest case that victimized Eder Pina and Helder Santos, and has been keeping in direct contact with the students. He is also working to replace their stolen passports.