In Ceuta, a large number of immigrants arrive against the background of tensions between Spain and Morocco - Liberation

In Ceuta, a large number of immigrants arrive against the background of tensions between Spain and Morocco – Liberation

For a quarter of a century, the border between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta has been the site of all kinds of illegal entrances. But what we’ve never seen before is such a massive influx of immigrants swimming. From Sunday night to Monday, according to the province of Ceuta, nearly 6,000 people arrived on the shores of this small Spanish land in North Africa. All testimonies agree that this human tidal wave was possible only because the Moroccan security forces left it, not exercising the usual vigilance from the coasts of Fnideq or Castelljos in Spanish, the neighboring city.

The majority of illegal immigrants were able to swim without difficulty by swimming around the nearest piers, Benzo and Taragal, before they set foot on Spanish soil. There they joined a barn authorized by the Ministry of Defense for illegal immigrants, but whose capacity does not exceed 200 people. “We are completely overwhelmed,” Complain about the authorities of Ceuta. Meanwhile, the Civil Guard, the Ministry of Defense, the Red Cross and Civil Protection have set up a “crisis committee” to deal with this unprecedented access. By comparison, the Canary Islands archipelago welcomed 2,000 people on November 7 and 8. In June 2018, the year with the largest number of irregular entries in Spain, 2,800 people disembarked in one week. This time the same number of people arrived in one day.

Differences between Spain and Morocco

How do we explain such a great human boom in such a short time? Since Morocco closed its borders in March 2020, candidates for irregular immigration have taken the risk to take a swim. Some have succeeded in betting them, but in a risky and difficult way, because the Moroccan gendarmerie in general is vigilant and tight. But on April 28, the security lock was lifted for the first time: 128 people arrived to swim on the beaches of Ceuta. On the Spanish side, we immediately understood the message: Rabat was protesting the entry of Brahim Ghali, Secretary-General of the Polisario Front, to Logroño Hospital for the sake of Covid, which is calling for the independence of Western Sahara, which Morocco has occupied since 1976. Madrid protested “Humanitarian reasons”, The Sharif’s Kingdom saw this as a provocation, and warned that it would be painted “All the consequences.”

Rabat apparently launched all surveillance operations on Monday, much more than it did in April, which explains the huge drop. Spanish newspapers reported that during the weekend, there was not a single Moroccan policeman along the Fnideq coast. For her part, Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya went so far as to deny evidence of a retaliatory measure … several differences between the two countries (hunting, mining, the status of Ceuta and Melilla …), and the government of socialist Pedro Sanchez – It weakened more and more They warn of a new conflict with the troubled neighbor.

In the eyes of Moroccan diplomacy, the issue of Western Sahara has become increasingly sensitive. In November, the ceasefire stopped working. And since December, former US President Donald Trump has admitted Moroccan sovereignty over Western SaharaRabat increases its pressure on European chancelleries to follow suit and stop urging the parties to do so Negotiate within the United Nations. It may also be that by allowing hundreds of citizens to flee, Morocco will kill two birds with one stone: Since closing its borders in March 2020 due to the pandemic, discontent has been mounting in Fnideq, a city that mainly lives from the border. Trade and relations with the wealthy of Ceuta. Several demonstrations have taken place against the restrictive measures preventing hundreds of domestic workers and skilled workers from coming to work.

The Spanish enclave faces a difficult situation: What do we do with these thousands of new immigrants? Minors cannot be repatriated. Adults could be, by bilateral agreement, as was the case in April. But this separation requires the approval of the Moroccan authorities: so everything depends on their goodwill. Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande Marlaska announced that 1,500 people had returned to Morocco on Tuesday morning. We are in the process of continuing these referrals. He told public Spanish television.

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