Spain will begin sending illegal immigrants in two Spanish territories on the north coast of Africa back to Morocco, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said today.
The measures come after the two cities, Ceuta and Melilla, have faced an “avalanche” of immigrants assaulting the land border separating Spain from Morocco, Zapatero said.
“We are going to begin repatriations to Morocco,” Zapatero said in a speech in Madrid. “That’s something which has never happened before but now it will happen.”
Drought in Sub-Saharan Africa and increased security on the sea routes into Spain have channeled would-be immigrants to the two cities with a land border with Morocco. Six immigrants died early today after hundreds of Africans stormed the fences around Melilla, Agence France-Presse reported citing Moroccan officials.
Zapatero said that around 6,000 immigrants were camped in Moroccan territory near to the cities waiting for an opportunity to get in.
Spain has asked the EU to rush through a 40 million-euro aid package for Morocco reinforce its borders and to send an urgent mission to the territories to verify the situation, Zapatero said.
“It’s essential that the EU participates and sustains the economic effort to contain the pressure of illegal immigration into Europe which Spain is suffering from,” Zapatero said. “Spain urgently needs the EU to support Morocco more effectively.”