Hundreds of minor Moroccans crossed the border via the Mediterranean Sea to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta last week, after the borders had been almost hermetically sealed since March 2020. They took advantage of a political crisis between Morocco and Spain that suddenly left the border on the North African side barely guarded – an act of revenge by Rabat, who blames Madrid for providing humanitarian aid to an independence fighter. Morocco is also outraged by Spain’s refusal to recognize Western Sahara as a Moroccan territory.
The rumor that Cristiano Ronaldo played in Ceuta is said to have led to the influx of hundreds of young people to the Spanish enclave, according to Spanish media. Only after Spain had deployed the army could the influx be halted. About half of the eight thousand illegally crossed persons in total were released. This did not apply to minors who must be given shelter according to international treaties.
Minors were collected from sheds like this photo, where they are all being tested for corona. The Spanish government is also trying to establish their identities here. Some will be returned, others will remain in Spain.
A version of this article also appeared in NRC Handelsblad of 22 May 2021
A version of this article also appeared in NRC on the morning of May 22, 2021