MADRID – Since Monday, more than 7,000 undocumented migrants have crossed the border between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta. According to Spanish media, most of them did so by swimming. Furthermore, Spain is said to have returned 2,700 already in this most recent migration crisis.
An unprecedented number of migrants, mainly Moroccans and sub-Saharan Africans, reached the Spanish territory. And the Moroccan border authorities did nothing to stop them. This is as a result of a diplomatic dispute between the Moroccan and Spanish governments.
‘Fear and insecurity’
According to the president of Ceuta, the state of mind of the population is now one of ‘resistance, insecurity, restlessness and fear’. Ceuta is experiencing an ‘exceptional situation’ due to the migration crisis. As such, residents are at home and children are not attending school. ‘An invasion is underway in our city. It would be a mistake to consider this issue merely a migration issue,” Juan Jesús Vivas confirmed.
Spain sends army
Following an emergency government meeting, the Spanish army in Ceuta now has more than 3,000 soldiers at its disposal. Some were transferred on Monday to avert the migration crisis at the border with Morocco. Military personnel, together with various additional police units, are overseeomg logistical support and the collection and return of the migrants scattered throughout Ceuta.
2,700 migrants returned
By noon on Tuesday, the Spanish Ministry of Internal Affairs indicated it had already returned 2,700 migrants. According to the newspaper El Mundo, this is from more than 7,000 who arrived in the Spanish enclave. Minister Grande-Marlaska reiterated the Spanish city of Ceuta, is ‘as Spanish as Seville and Madrid’. Furthermore, he promised to guard the integrity of the border with the immediate expulsion of those who enter. However, an alternative situation applies to the minor migrants. These will not be returned immediately but under national and international legislation must first undergo a different procedure
According to the minister, Spain has been facing a migration crisis for three years. Moreover, this has repeatedly emphasised this to the European authorities. The Spanish migration policy is at the same time a European migration policy.
No xenophobic messages
Government spokesperson María Jesús Montero has urged other political leaders to exercise “responsibility and prudence” in this crisis, identifying all “xenophobic reports attempting to criminalize migrants as criminal acts.” This is what Montero said during a press conference after the cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning. “The last thing the migration crisis needs is for political leaders to incite hatred and fear.”
‘Defending our territory’
Transport Minister Ábalos acknowledged the situation in Ceuta is ‘worrying’ and expressed the government’s commitment to ‘defend our territory’. To this end, additional policemen and soldiers have been sent to Ceuta.
Blackmail of Morocco
The leader of Más País, Iñigo Errejón denounced Morocco’s ‘blackmail’ and demanded ‘firm action’ from Spain and the European Union. He also called for compliance with United Nations resolutions on Western Sahara. The border between Morocco and Ceuta is not only a Spanish border, but also a European border. For this reason, the EU must also act from Errejón’s point of view.
El Mundo reported Brussels has already warned Morocco, saying “Ceuta is also the European border” and demanding that Rabat take back control of that border.