Ceuta migrant crisis: EU ordered to act as Swedish MEP hits out

Spain: Migrants climb over border wall in Ceuta

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Charles Weimers issued an urgent call for a shift in EU policy when it comes to handling influxes of illegal migrants in member states. His comments come a week after around 8,000 people crossed the border from Morocco into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta by scaling fences and swimming in the sea.

While authorities returned many to their place of origin, around 800 unaccompanied minors are being cared for in a warehouse in Ceuta while it is estimated that hundreds more are sleeping rough.

Some 200 youngsters are set to be relocated from the Spanish enclave to the mainland, according to reports.

Mr Weimers dismissed Brussels’ approach to the crisis and called for a new strategy to be adopted to prevent any further problems.

He hit out at the bloc’s soft-touch approach and said as long as it is willing to “tolerate” illegal migration, people would continue to try and make dangerous journeys.

Asked about the crisis in Ceuta, Mr Weimers told Express.co.uk: “The EU’s long term response should be to co-finance the strengthening of frontier countries border forces and barriers, both on land and sea.”

Mr Weimers urged the EU to send a firm message to Morocco, saying there should be an “immediate, firm and uncompromising show of European solidarity”.

He said the bloc should “suspend any current payments schemes to Morocco, halt the issuance of visas, implement trade sanctions.”

In scenes reminiscent of the EU’s refugee crisis of 2015, the Spanish military was last week deployed to beaches in Ceuta.

Diplomatic tensions between Rabat and Madrid erupted after Spain offered medical treatment to Brahim Ghali, the leader of Western Sahara’s independence movement Polisario Front.

The move angered Morocco, which has held the disputed territory since it passed from Spanish control in the mid-1970s.

The Algeria-backed Polisario Front has been fighting for independence since then.

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Morocco has made not secret that the recent influx of migrants into Ceuta was orchestrated.

One video showed a border guard opening a gate to allow people, mostly young males, to run through.

Moroccan officials described the move as retaliation for Mr Ghali being admitted to a Spanish hospital after he contracted Covid.

On Thursday the separatist leader’s lawyer’s office said he will attend a high court hearing remotely next Tuesday from hospital.

He was served a June 1 summons for a preliminary hearing in a war crimes case against him filed by Saharaui dissidents.

The high court said he could attend the hearing remotely from hospital through a video conference if he has not fully recovered.

The Spanish government said it agreed to allow him into a hospital in the northern city of Logrono as a “humanitarian gesture”.

Morocco had in recent years worked with Spain, its biggest trading partner, to crack down on migrant flows into Ceuta and another Spanish enclave, Melilla, as well as across the Strait of Gibraltar.

Melilla lies around 185 miles east of Ceuta and also border Morocco.

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