An unusually large group of about 5,000 Moroccans, most of them minors or their families, swam illegally into Spain’s northern Ceuta region on Monday, a spokesman for the Spanish government’s delegation said.
A spokesman said one person had died.
Crowds of young people mostly swim to the beach, some run or thumbs up, local media images shown by Faro at an event that kicked off overnight and quickly gathered.
Spain’s Ceuta enclave and nearby Melilla on Morocco’s northern coast are a magnet for African immigrants trying to travel to Europe in search of a better life.
But the high numbers on Monday included some 1,500 minors, a spokesman said – was quickly followed by a Spanish official announcement that they would increase security in the area.
Spain will “calm down”, Minister of Foreign Affairs Arancha Gonzalez Laya told radio Cadena SER, adding that authorities had begun sending those who had just returned to Morocco.
Spanish and Moroccan officials were in touch late in the afternoon about what happened in Ceuta, she said.
The arrival of the immigrants comes at a time of escalating tensions between Spain and Morocco over the fate of Brahim Kali, the Algerian-backed Polisario front leader who is in hospital in Spain
Morocco’s foreign ministry released a harsh statement last month, arguing that what it said was Spain’s decision to recognize Ghali under its erroneous identity without notifying Morocco, and said the Spanish decision would submit. Effect on relationship
The United States in December accepted Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara, claimed to be an independent state by the Polisario Front.
Ghali was hospitalized in Spain, Spanish diplomatic sources told Reuters.
Ghali was recognized in Spain for humanitarian reasons, Gonzalez Laya told Radio Cadena SER, adding that she believed the influx of immigrants did not counter the plight of the Polisario Front leader.
“I can’t speak for Morocco. But what they told us a few hours ago this afternoon was not the result of (Ghali) disagreement, ”said Gonzalez Laya.
“Spain is very clear and detailed about the case, it’s just a humanitarian issue,” she said.
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