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Over 80 migrants swim from Morocco to Spain’s Ceuta enclave

Published: Updated:

More than 80 migrants swam to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta from neighboring Morocco on Monday, Spanish police said.

The migrants, including some minors, set off in the early hours of Monday from beaches a few kilometers south of Ceuta and were detained when they entered the Spanish territory, a spokesman for the Guardia Civil police force in Ceuta said.

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It said at least two families entered Ceuta from Morocco on rubber dinghies.

During the last weekend of April around 100 migrants swam into Ceuta from Morocco during a single weekend, in groups of 20 to 30. The majority were deported back to Morocco.

The arrival of the migrants to Ceuta comes amid tensions between Madrid and Rabat over the presence in Spain of the leader of the Western Sahara independence movement.

Rabat has reacted angrily after it emerged that the leader of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, has since mid April been treated at a hospital in Spain for COVID-19.

The Polisario Front has long fought for the independence of Western Sahara from Morocco.

Ceuta, together with a second Spanish enclave in north Africa, Melilla, have the European Union’s only land borders with Africa, making them popular entry points for migrants seeking a better life in Europe.

Migrants try to reach the enclaves either by swimming along the coast or climbing the tall border fences that separate them from Morocco.

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