how to explain the migratory pressure around Ceuta and Melilla?

Is a new migratory and political crisis emerging between Rabat and Madrid? “More than 400 migrants” tried to enter the Spanish enclave of Melilla located in Morocco, Spanish authorities announced this Friday, June 24. “Around 6:40 a.m. (…) A large group of people from sub-Saharan African countries, perfectly organized and violent, forced entry and broke the border control access door” before entering Melilla, explained the prefecture.

This massive entry attempt into one of the two Spanish enclaves located on the northern coast of Morocco has caused the death of five migrants, according to local authorities. This incident is the first since the normalization of relations in mid-March between Madrid and Rabat after nearly a year of diplomatic quarrel.

Enclaves claimed by Morocco

A colonial vestige, these two enclaves have been claimed for many years by the Alaouite kingdom, which Madrid strongly opposes, as they have been in the bosom of the Spanish Crown for several centuries. The enclaves have even acquired the status of “autonomous cities” since 1995. The only land border between Africa and the European Union, these lands are the subject of dissension between Morocco and Spain and are regularly the scene of attempts of entry by migrants seeking to reach Europe.

In May 2021 more than 10,000 migrants had crossed the enclave of Ceuta in 24 hours. A few months later, Melilla is in turn the site of several massive entry attempts, including the largest ever recorded in this enclave with around 2,500 migrants.

At the time, the two countries were in the midst of a political crisis. This was caused by the reception in Spain of the leader of the Sahrawi separatists of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, in April 2021 to be treated there for Covid-19. Spain, which suspected Rabat of having voluntarily relaxed its controls, then denounced a ” blackmail ” and an ” assault “.

“Blackmailing migrants”

If today the two States maintain better diplomatic relations, this “blackmailing migrants” is regularly denounced by European executives and NGOs. In early June, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that Spain “would not tolerate” the use of “illegal immigration as a weapon of pressure” words that sounded like a warning.

An analysis shared by the NGOs present on the spot. “Morocco must not use people, including its own citizens, as pawns on the political chessboard “, denounced Virginia Álvarez, an official of Amnesty International Spain.

This Friday, the Spanish authorities nevertheless welcomed the action of the “extensive security apparatus of the Moroccan forces, which have actively collaborated in a coordinated manner with the forces of order” Spanish.


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