Spain sends back 2 700 migrants who swam from Morocco
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Pretoria - Spain has sent 2,700 people back to Morocco out of more than 6,000 who swam from the North African country into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta since Monday, Al Jazeera reported on Tuesday.
The broadcaster said the group included mostly men, as well as women and about 1,500 children. One person died in the perilous crossing.
Al Jazeera quoted Spain’s Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska as saying that Madrid has sent 200 additional police to Ceuta to reinforce the 1,200 officers currently guarding the border with Morocco.
Meanwhile, AFP said the unprecedented number of arrivals, which occurred at a time of tension between Madrid and Rabat, prompted the minister to cancel a trip to Paris later on Tuesday, where he was to attend an Africa financing summit.
Spain does not grant Moroccans asylum status, the agency added.
Sky News quoted Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez as saying that every person who entered Ceuta illegally will be expelled.
"We are going to restore order to the city and its borders," he said.
He added that the sudden increase in migrants was a serious crisis for Spain and Europe and that he would be travelling to the region soon.
The European Union stepped in on Tuesday, with commissioner for home affairs Ylva Johansson describing the crossings as “worrying”.
“The most important thing now is that Morocco continues to commit to prevent irregular departures and that those that do not have the right to stay are orderly and effectively returned,” she said. “Spanish borders are European borders.”
AFP reported that local authorities in Melilla, Spain's other north African enclave, said more than 300 migrants had tried to cross the barrier into the territory before dawn on Tuesday, with 86 of them succeeding.
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen took to Twitter in solidarity with Spain.
“EU stands in solidarity with Ceuta and Spain. We need common EU solutions to migration management. This can be achieved with agreement on the New Pact on Migration. Stronger partnerships based on mutual trust and joint commitments with key partners like Morocco are crucial,” she wrote.
African News Agency (ANA)