Spanish authorities on Friday said they have returned to Morocco over 6,600 of the more than 8,000 migrants who swam or jumped over border fences into one of its enclaves in North Africa this week.
For a second day in a row, no fresh arrivals were recorded in the Spanish city of Ceuta after Moroccan authorities stepped up control on their side of the border.
But in nearby Melilla another Spanish territory 350 kilometres (220 miles) west along the Mediterranean Sea, border security forces on both sides repelled groups of youths trying to get into Spain. The Spanish government’s delegation in Melilla said a few dozen made it in.
The two Spanish enclaves and the influx of African migrants crossing the borders in recent days have been the centre of a diplomatic row between Spain and Morocco.
Relations between the two Mediterranean neighbours have dipped to a low over Spain’s decision last month to grant entry for medical treatment to the man leading the movement that has fought for Western Sahara’s independence since Morocco annexed the vast territory in the 1970s.
Officials in Rabat say Polisario Front boss Brahim Ghali’s presence in Spain, where he entered under an Algerian passport baring a false name, is unacceptable.
Ghali, who Morocco considers a terrorist, has been recovering from COVID-19 in a hospital in northern Spain since April 18.
He’s also been summoned for questioning by Spain’s National Court on June 01 in a lawsuit for alleged tortures and is being investigated for possible genocide in a separate case brought by dissident Sahrawi groups who oppose the Polisario. (Source: The Independent)