Since the beginning of July there has been a surge in the number of irregular migrants entering the North African Spanish autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla. Over 200 migrants have entered Ceuta mostly by swimming or using small rafts to enter the territory from Morocco. Melilla has reportedly had approximately 207 migrants reach its territory during the same period. This is the largest number of irregular entries by sea in recent years, though the number is small compared to the events of 2005 when numerous migrants were able to traverse the border fences of the two cities.
The CETI (Centre for Temporary Stay of Immigrants) in Melilla is at roughly twice its capacity and is holding over 730 immigrants. The CETI in Ceuta has an official capacity of 512 and is now holding over 680 migrants. The three main political groups in Ceuta’s local government have called on the Spanish government to transfer migrants from Ceuta to the mainland in order to relief the overcrowding.
Francisco Javier Velázquez, the director general of the Spanish police and Civil Guard just completed a visit to Rabat to seek greater cooperation from Morocco in controlling the migratory flow towards the Spanish territories. Several media reports suggest that Moroccan authorities have reduced police and border guard patrols near the Spanish cities because they were deployed elsewhere in Morocco in response to the large demonstrations surrounding the referendum on the new Moroccan constitution. With the internal demonstrations becoming smaller and less frequent, Spanish authorities believe that the Moroccan border patrols will soon be restored.
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