Euronews with AFP (18.05.2021) – https://bit.ly/3ymr1D0 – At least 3,000 migrants reached the Spanish enclave of Ceuta from neighbouring Morocco on Monday, a record in a single day, Spanish authorities said.
1,000 of them are presumed to be minors, according to a Spanish government spokesman.
Authorities say that the crossings began at 2 am in the border area of Ceuta known as Benzú and were then followed by a few dozen people near the eastern beach of Tarajal.
The daylight didn’t stop the crossings, as entire families with children, swam or boarded inflatable boats, said the spokesman.
“It was low tide and in some places, you could practically walk across,” he added.
The migrants were checked by Red Cross medics before being taken to a reception centre.
They were detained when they entered Spain, a police spokesman said earlier on Monday.
Last month, around 100 migrants swam to Ceuta in groups of 20 to 30. Most were deported back to Morocco.
The Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla have the European Union’s only land borders with Africa, making them popular entry points for migrants seeking a better life in Europe.
Migrants try to reach the enclaves either by swimming along the coast or climbing the tall border fences that separate them from Morocco.
The wave of arrivals came at a point of tension between Madrid and Rabat over the presence in Spain of the leader of the Western Sahara independence movement.
Rabat reacted angrily after it emerged that the leader of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, has been treated at a hospital in Spain for COVID-19 since mid-April.
The Polisario Front has long fought for the independence of Western Sahara from Morocco.
Asked by reporters whether Morocco was relaxing controls on departing migrants, Spain’s foreign minister simply said she had no information.
Photo credits: Antonio Sempere/AFP