Already this morning more than 6,000 migrants from Morocco arrived in Ceuta, Spain. Of this large group, 2,700 have already been deported to Morocco, according to Spain’s Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska. Police were forced to use tear gas against the stone throwers. The Moroccan coast and Ceuta (on the shortest stretches) are about 15 kilometers away. One person died at the crossing.
Yesterday alone, some 5,000 people arrived in Ceuta – never before had there been so many of them in a single day. Grande Marlaska says there are more people on the Moroccan side who want to cross the border illegally.
According to Spanish media, Morocco has offered free passage into the enclave. Migrants achieved their goal by swimming or walking. They took advantage of the low tide.
Gate at the border gate
Spanish television showed footage of soldiers transporting the migrants one by one to a gate in the border fence to return them to Morocco. Four armored vehicles rolled onto the beach in front of the fence.
On the other side of the border, a large crowd was waiting for an opportunity to reach Ceuta. Some of them threw stones at the fence, after which the Spaniards bombed them with tear gas.
A row of soldiers with batons prevented the swimmers from descending. Completely exhausted people were taken to ambulances on stretchers.
Spanish Prime Minister cancels visiting Paris
Meanwhile, the Spanish prime minister decided to cancel his scheduled visit to Paris due to “recent events”. Pedro Sanchez is scheduled to attend the African Economies Finance Summit in the French capital this afternoon.
A Spanish government spokesman said that about 1,500 refugees who arrived in Ceuta yesterday were from minors. They are not immediately brought back, but end up in a relief camp that is now completely overcrowded.
The situation is chaotic in Ceuta, which is a city of around 85,000 residents. The Spanish army is on site to support the police.
Ceuta and Melilla, the other Spanish enclave in Morocco, are the only land borders between Africa and the European Union. Therefore, they are popular places for immigrants who want to go to Europe. Today, 86 migrants managed to enter Melilla.
Relations between Spain and Morocco deteriorated recently after Spain took on a man fighting for the independence of Western Sahara. The region was formerly a Spanish colony and is now largely controlled by Morocco, but the Polisario movement wants to create its own state in the region. Ibrahim Ghali, the leader of that movement, is now being treated for Coronavirus in Spain. According to Spain, Galli was only accepted on humanitarian grounds (due to his illness) and this decision has nothing to do with the struggle for independence.
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