Like thousands of young Moroccans, Amal, an 18-year-old girl, rushed to the border post of Castillejos (north) on Monday, with the idea of being able to reach the Spanish enclave of Ceuta. “I’m not afraid of death, what scares me is dying poor, here“, she accounts.
Exhausted, her face pale, Amal tried all night, but couldn’t make it to the end of “the adventure”: She arrived too late and the Moroccan security forces prevented her from entering Ceuta, on European territory, on Tuesday morning.
“When we learned through Facebook that people were entering Ceuta without being detained by the security forces, we came”, explains this girl, a native of a neighboring town and who went to Fnideq (Castillejos in Spanish) attracted, like many, by the impressive images that were seen on social networks.
On Monday, thousands of people of all ages, men, women, youth and children, managed to cross the border to Ceuta, an unprecedented situation, in a context of diplomatic crisis between Madrid and Rabat.
Ceuta and Melilla, two Spanish enclaves in Morocco, are the only land borders between Africa and the European Union.
Moroccan Internet users expressed their “stupefaction“, even their “pain” upon seeing the images of this human tide.
Some explain it as a consequence of the discontent of Rabat, who would have let the clandestines pass after being hospitalized in Spain of the head of the Polisario Front – a movement that has fought for the independence of Western Sahara for decades, Morocco considers part of its territory.
“I have come here to cross clandestinely and guarantee the future of my children, because here, there is nothing. We dare to pass: either I die or I pass.” Says Ouarda, 26 years old and mother of two children, divorced and unemployed, from Tetouan (north).
According to the Spanish authorities, 6,000 migrants (including some 2,700 minors) arrived since Monday Morocco to Spanish territory, on foot or by swimming. Some 1,500 were returned to the other side of the border.
The Moroccan police, after observing for 24 hours without doing anything as the migrants crossed, began on Tuesday morning to block the entrances and to disperse the crowd that had gathered in the area.
On Tuesday afternoon, the situation remained confusing: groups of people persisted in their attempt to cross, while others turned around, deterred by the Spanish security forces, who used tear gas.
Social inequalities were already profound in Morocco, but with the pandemic the situation worsened. Poverty increased sevenfold in this country of 36 million inhabitants, according to the High Commissioner for Planning (HCP), in charge of statistics.
The closure of the borders for 15 months and the decision of the authorities moroccan At the end of 2019, after ending the smuggling (which served as a livelihood for the entire region), they left thousands of people without resources.
“I have no future here.” Said Soulaimane, 21, near the border post.
“All the young people want to leave the country, there is no work.” Abounds Mohamed, a 26-year-old rapper.
Despite the fact that the Spanish authorities have reported that one person drowned, Mohamed is not afraid. “I have to go to save my life”.
“When you don’t have money, you have to pay rent and you have to take care of your children and your parents, there is no room for fear”, insists Ouarda.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.