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Thousands of migrants swim across the Mediterranean

They swam almost two kilometers before they found safe land: Thousands of migrants have reached the Spanish exclave of Ceuta. The media speak of at least 5,000 people.

Several thousand migrants swam across the Mediterranean from the Moroccan city of Fnideq to the Spanish North Africa exclave of Ceuta on Monday. The Moroccan police did not intervene, reported the newspaper El País, citing reports from eyewitnesses in Fnideq.

The newspaper El Faro published in Ceuta originally put the number of migrants at at least 2,700, but today the media speak of at least 5,000 illegal migrants. Around 1,500 of the migrants who arrived are minors. The people had to cover almost two kilometers in the water.

Both newspapers cited the anger of the government in Rabat that Spain allowed medical treatment for the head of the Polisario independence movement for Western Sahara, Brahim Ghali, as a possible reason for the inaction of the Moroccan police. He has been treated for corona disease in a Spanish hospital since April.

"I don't know what to do with the people"
The authorities in Ceuta with around 85,000 inhabitants were overwhelmed by the mass exodus. "On Sunday there were about 70 people in the reception center for illegal migrants. I don't know what to do with the people or where to put them," the newspaper quoted a person in charge of the exclave as saying.

Western Sahara on the North African Atlantic coast was a Spanish colony until 1975. Morocco controls large parts of the sparsely populated area on its southern border. The Polisario seeks independence for the Western Sahara. Morocco only wants to grant the region autonomy. Tensions rose again after a Moroccan military operation in Western Sahara in November.

In addition, Donald Trump, confirmed Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara in December. Since then, tensions have increased between Morocco and European countries that criticized Trump's decision. So Rabat called his ambassador back from Berlin at the beginning of May.

Spain begins with deportations
The authorities of the Spanish exclave of Ceuta in North Africa have begun to deport the migrants who had crossed the border from Morocco by the thousands since yesterday.

As the newspaper El Faro in Ceuta reports, the adults were first collected in a stadium and are then to be brought to Morocco. Around 300 of the newcomers have already been deported.

The Interior Ministry in Madrid said it would increase the security presence. At the same time, it was emphasized that it had only recently been agreed with Morocco that anyone who comes to Ceuta illegally would be deported. Ceuta and the other Spanish exclave Melilla have the only land border between the European Union and Africa.

Source: T-Online / ORF
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