Migrants continue to push for Spain's Ceuta despite increased border security
Even as Spain pressed on with the expulsion of thousands of migrants who had swum or climbed into Spain's North African enclave, hundreds of migrants tried to force their way past tightened security into Ceuta.
The rush of migrants began on Monday, May 17, when Morocco appeared to loosen border controls, a move widely interpreted as retaliation for Spain's hosting of a Western Sahara independence leader.
The ones who were expelled
According to Spanish authorities, around two-thirds of the roughly 8,000 migrants who made it to Ceuta, including unaccompanied children, have been expelled. Many of those returned said they would once again try to reach Europe.
Clashes with the police
As thousands gathered near Ceuta frontier, in Fnideq, a Moroccan border town, hundreds of them clashed after dark with Moroccan riot police, throwing stones and setting on fire a motorbike and a rubbish bin.
Swimming to it
Some migrants also tried to enter Ceuta's beach via the water, but there they were met by army. Following this around 1,500 underage migrants are now under detention in Ceuta reception centers.
Accusations of violence
Spanish security forces have also been accused, by Human rights group Amnesty International, of using violence against migrants, including beating or throwing them into the sea. The organisation also accused Morocco of using migrants as pawns in its dispute with Spain. Some of the migrants who were sent back also said they had been beaten by Spanish security forces.
Spain's Social Rights Minister Ione Belarre while talking to broadcaster TVE said that many of the migrants were children, some without families and some as young as seven years.
"Many of them did not know the consequences of crossing the border. And many of them want to go back," she added.
Reason behind the tensions
Madrid's decision to provide medical treatment to the ailing Western Sahara independence movement leader Brahim Ghali, who has Covid-19, is behind the tensions between Spain and Morocco.
According to Analysts, the reason behind Morocco turning a blind eye to those entering Ceuta, is to put diplomatic pressure on Spain to recognise its sovereignty over Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, now mainly under Moroccan control.