Migrants see Ceuta, which borders Morocco, as the gateway to the European Union. Moroccan authorities reportedly suddenly relaxed border security measures at the start of this week. About 8,000 people managed to swim or take a boat to enter the extremely secure Spanish enclave.
Moroccan security forces intervened at a later time. The government also chartered buses to return Moroccans gathered in the area to the cities they came from. The initiators say that about 3,000 people have already been transferred Thursday evening.
Before the storm, Spain and Morocco were at loggerheads over Spanish assistance to a sick separatist leader, Ibrahim Ghali of the Polisario Front. This group wants its own state in Western Sahara, which Morocco claims. The Moroccan government found it unacceptable not to inform it of Ghali’s presence in a Spanish hospital.
On Friday, Minister Grande Marlaska expressed her hope that the diplomatic conflict would soon be over. “It is inconceivable that a humanitarian gesture would lead to a situation like the Ceuta crisis,” he said.
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