At least 8000 Moroccans have reportedly fled into the Ceuta enclave of Spain with at least 2000 of them believed to be teenagers. According to Spanish authorities, the influx of migrants is the European country’s highest to date and a result of relaxed border controls and escalating hardships in Morocco. The vast majority of the Moroccan migrants arrived in Spain by sea with a number of them having suffered from hypothermia and other injuries and one man reported to have drowned.
While Home Affairs Commissioner, Ylva Johansson, has described the record influx of migrants as “worrying”, Johansson also reported the following to parliament, The Washington Post reports:
“The most important thing now is that Morocco continues to commit to prevent irregular departures, and that those who do not have the right to stay are orderly and effectively returned. Spanish borders are European borders. The European Union wants to build a relationship with Morocco based on trust and shared commitments. Migration is a key element.”
Spanish security forces have already been sent to reinforce the current security at the border, BBC reports. The adults have been separated from minors and transported to separate locations with at least 1500 Moroccans having been deported already. One 26-year-old mother described her fervent efforts to escape her home country saying, “I came here to cross illegally in order to secure my son’s future because here in Tetouan [Northern Morocco] there is nothing. We are going out to cross: either I’ll die or I’ll cross.” She goes on to add that, “When you have nothing (no money) to spend, you have to pay your rent and you have to take care of your children and parents, there is no room for fear.”
Just last month, 100 migrants entered into Ceuta although 30 of them, determined to be minors, were permitted to stay. The humanitarian crisis between Spain and Morocco is the result of an ongoing dispute over the Western Sahara region.