Tanta Europa
Tanta Europa

Europe, facing the challenges of Ceuta and Melilla

Everyday carriers, patera [illegal transport] cars, private cars and walkers converge at the border crossing between Spain and Morocco. Activity is frantic, and tensions run high. For instance, in Ceuta, the line that forms at the border can take up to six hours.
Everyday carriers, patera [illegal transport] cars, private cars and walkers converge at the border crossing between Spain and Morocco. Activity is frantic, and tensions run high. For instance, in Ceuta, the line that forms at the border can take up to six hours.
JORGE PARÍS

These days, a delegation of six MEPs, including Spaniards Juan Fernando López Aguilar (PSOE), Maite Pagazaurtundúa (UPyD), Marina Albiol (IU) and Florent Marcellesi (Equo), are visiting Ceuta and Melilla. Their goal is to meet with Government, local authorities and NGOs representatives in order to analyze the status of the border with Morocco, in view of the migration crisis and, paying special attention to human rights. Ahead of their conclusions, the following are the main issues these two cities must face.

Oversaturated. Crossing any of the two terrestrial borders separating Morocco and Spain is becoming increasingly complicated. The flow of people trying to enter Ceuta and Melilla on a daily basis has reached levels that are suffocating the shops and the hotel and catering industry. For these economies, the Moroccans staying at their hotels, eating at their restaurants, enjoying their free time and shopping at their stores are essential. Yet, this type of visitors are not coming anymore, shunned by the masses at the border. All among claims of obsolete facilities, insufficient police and lack of security.

To which we must add the continuous inflow of migrants. "Many organizations are denouncing the sytematic violation of human rights, such as hot returns", claims Albiol, whose organization is very crytical of the Eorupean policies on migration since "they have focused on closing the borders and letting migration control on countries such as Morocco, where human rights can be absent".

Close to 1,500 MENAs

Out of the around 11,200 unaccompanied foreign minors [known as MENAs] in Spain as of September 30, according to data from the Ministry of Interior, Melilla hosts 1,090, being the Spanish region with the most unaccompanied foreign minors, second only to Andalucia. There are 407 of them in Ceuta, placing it in the seventh position, with the same number as the Madrid region. Which, in a population of around 85,000 inhabitants, represents a much higher ratio per thousand inhabitants than any other region.

In order to help these regions finance the care and accommodation of these children, the Government has approved a package of €40 million. These monies are to be divided based on the increase experimented by each of them from December 31. Using this basis, Melilla, after welcoming 173 new unaccompanied minors should receive €1.3 million and Ceuta, with another 146, €1.1 million.

During the inter-territorial coordination panel held on this matter, both cities agree that the solution would be to return the minors to their country of origin, calling on the protocols signed, for instance, with Morocco. "Meanwhile, solidarity rules should apply. We are overflowed", as Juan Jesús Vivas, the president of Ceuta, declared to this newspaper only a couple of months ago.

The CETI centers are overflowed

Both the Melilla and the Ceuta Centers for the Temporary Stay of Immigrants (CETIs) tend to operate above capacity. The first one, designed for less than 1000 people, currently hosts 1400. The second one, with about 500 beds, hosts about 920 foreigners. This level of saturation results in disputes and protests.

The European delegation will reach Ceuta exactly one day after 80 Algerians demonstrated at the city center to protest for their "blockade" in this city, after being at its CETI for more than a year. After Salvadora Mateos, the Government delegate, met with them, institutional sources stated that they trusted the human resources reinforcements expected for the Asylum and Refugee Office could speed up their asylum seeking processes.

With no labor rights. Thousands of carriers, especially women, risk their lives, sometimes for no more than €10, introducing goods from the two Spanish cities into Moroccan territory. With loads which can be in excess of 80 kg on their backs, they work in subhuman conditions and without any kind of labor rights and, yet, this is their only livelihood. Albiol regrets that Sabrina Moh, the Government delegate in Melilla, didn't even reply as to the issues of these women and, on first opinion, he thinks there are not "too many differences between this administration and the previous one".

The Ceuta border: lives on the limit

Destined to close

In the industrial neighborhoods of Tarajal de Ceuta, next to the barrio del Príncipe, the shops that are not fully devoted to the carrying business, are being forced to close And the same thing is happening to other city shops.

En los polígonos del Tarajal de Ceuta, bajo el barrio del Príncipe, los comercios que no se dedican al porteo o lo hacen en un pequeño porcentaje, están teniendo que cerrar.
En los polígonos del Tarajal de Ceuta, bajo el barrio del Príncipe, los comercios que no se dedican al porteo o lo hacen en un pequeño porcentaje, están teniendo que cerrar.

(JORGE PARÍS)

Carrying the load on their backs

When they cannot cross through their specific crossing, some carriers try to cross through the common border. Thus, groups of men and women return from Morocco coming down through a ramp by the Ceuta border crossing.

Algunos porteadores que no logran cruzar por el paso específico para ellos lo intentan a través de la frontera común.
Algunos porteadores que no logran cruzar por el paso específico para ellos lo intentan a través de la frontera común.

(JORGE PARÍS)

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