• Tue. Oct 26th, 2021

Some 6,000 migrants swim from Morocco to Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in North Africa

Byeditorial

May 18, 2021

(CNN) – Some 6,000 migrants from Morocco have swam to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in North Africa since Monday, Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said Tuesday.

Grande-Marlaska said 1,500 of them had already been returned to Morocco.

When asked if there were 1,500 minors among that total of 6,000 migrants, the minister told the Spanish station TVE that “it is too early to confirm that, but reasonably that is the number” of minors.

Meanwhile, the president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, canceled a trip to Paris due to the crisis, his office confirmed. While Grande-Marlaska will head to Ceuta on Tuesday afternoon, his spokesperson told CNN.

The weekly Spanish cabinet meeting on Tuesdays focuses on this issue and Sánchez and his interior minister are expected to make statements later.

The Red Cross is in Ceuta attending to migrants, a spokeswoman for the organization told TVE.

Isabel Brasero said that the Red Cross has been helping the migrants who arrived at Tarajal beach, in Ceuta. Brasero says the Red Cross had seen adults, children and babies. So far, they appear to be in good health, probably helped by favorable weather conditions and the short distance they swam. The Red Cross is helping them with dry clothes, blankets and food.

Moroccan migrants walk into shallow waters off the coast of the northern city of Fnideq as they attempt to cross the border from Morocco to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in North Africa on May 18, 2021. (Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP via Getty Images )

The migrants swam from a beach in Morocco, along a breakwater that juts out into the Mediterranean, to the end of it and then the other side to Tarajal beach, Spanish authorities said.

Spain has seen a recent increase in migrants arriving on its shores. Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, says that “more than 1,000 irregular migrants arrived in the Canary Islands in April, three times the total for the same month last year.

«In the January-April period, about 4,500 irregular migrants arrived in the Canary Islands, more than double the total for the same period in 2020.

“Nationals of sub-Saharan countries, most of whom claim to be from Mali and Morocco, accounted for the largest number of arrivals.”

Ceuta, with a population of approximately 84,000 inhabitants, is one of the enclaves of Spain on the north coast of Morocco. The other is Melilla. Both have tall fences along their land borders with Morocco, which migrants often attempt to climb to reach Spain and the territory of the European Union.

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