Red Cross members assist migrant minors as they wait to be tested for COVID-19 upon their arrival to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, on May 19, 2021. Photograph:( AFP )
Madrid has been accused by the international NGO Save the Children of neglecting to uphold children's rights
Save the Children on Saturday urged Spain to halt the repatriation to Morocco of hundreds of unaccompanied minors who were among thousands of migrants who crossed into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta three months ago.
The international NGO accused Madrid of failing to protect the rights of the children.
Up to 10,000 migrants flooded across the border in North Africa into Ceuta over several days in May as Moroccan border guards stood aside.
This was widely seen as retaliation for Spain's decision to host Brahim Ghali, leader of the Polisario Front, which has for decades fought Morocco for the independence of Western Sahara, for medical treatment.
Spain on Friday began sending back more than 700 unaccompanied minors to Morocco.
"Repatriations from Ceuta continue today," Save the Children posted on Twitter Saturday.
Hoy continúan las repatriaciomes desde Ceuta. Estamos viendo como sacan a niños desde el pabellón deportivo de Santa Amelia para llevarlos a Marruecos. Pedimos el cese de estas reagrupaciones, España no está garantizando la protección de los menores. pic.twitter.com/SSuBZH5IqP— Save the Children Es (@SaveChildrenEs) August 14, 2021
The NGO called "for an end" to these. "Spain is not guaranteeing the protection of minors," it said.
The interior ministry has not officially announced the repatriations and was not immediately available when contacted by AFP.
Ione Belarra, leader of the far-left Podemos, the junior member of Spain's ruling coalition, also criticised the transfers in a letter to Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska.
"We have been informed by children's organisations on the ground that the repatriation of minors has begun," she wrote in the letter published in online daily El Confidencial.
She said that the operation might be taking place "without strict observance" of various Spanish and international laws.