Thousands of migrants still in Spain's Ceuta enclave

Thousands of migrants still in Spain's Ceuta enclave
Around 3,000 migrants remain in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, the city's top official said Thursday.
2 min read
17 June, 2021
Thousands of migrants remain in Spain's Ceuta [Getty]

A month after more than 10,000 people surged across the Moroccan border into Ceuta, around 3,000 of them are still inside the Spanish enclave, the city's top official said Thursday. 

"We calculate that 3,000 people are still here - both adults and minors - of the 12,000 who entered our city unlawfully on May 17 and 18," Juan Vivas told reporters. 

Of that number, 830 were unaccompanied minors, he said. 

Almost all of those who crossed were Moroccans and most were quickly sent back. 

"Many of these 3,000 people who stayed are totally penniless. It is an absolutely unsustainable situation for our city and it's getting worse every day," he said. 

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"This situation can only be resolved by the government and it must act as soon as possible to avoid irreparable damage."

Urgent action was required because it was a "humanitarian emergency" and in order to ensure the "peace and security of (Ceuta's) residents". 

Spain's two tiny enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla have Europe's only land border with Africa, making them a magnet for migrants desperate to escape grinding poverty and hunger. 

Last month, Spain was caught off guard when thousands of people began crossing into Ceuta as Moroccan border guards looked the other way.

The incident occurred during a diplomatic crisis between Spain and Morocco over the presence of the ailing leader of Western Sahara's independence movement at a Spanish hospital, with the border breach widely seen as a punitive move by Rabat. 

Although the Polisario leader left Spain on June 2, diplomatic relations have remained tense.