A migrant boy risks his life to swim BACK to Morocco from Spain and ignores the police trying to save him
Dramatic footage shows a young migrant boy trying to swim back to Morocco from a Spanish enclave using his backpack as a float – and refusing rescue attempts.
The child can be seen struggling to make a profit in the choppy waters off Ceuta as agents of the Spanish Guardia Civil try to lure him out of a lifeboat.
But the little boy repeatedly ignores the police officer – from the GEAS water force – who stretches out his hand in an attempt to get him to safety.
More than 8,000 people entered Ceuta from Morocco last week in an attempt to enter Europe after the North African country left its borders open.
Morocco has since shut them down, but according to Spanish media, several thousand minors remain legally stranded in Ceuta – with dozens attempting to swim back recently.
The exact number is unknown, but the Ceuta government said on Friday that they had received 4,400 phone calls from Moroccan families looking for their children after making the crossing that week.
A newscaster on Spanish TV channel La Sexta, who aired the footage of the swimming boy, said: “The police are trying to save the boy, but it seems he won’t allow them.”
Another news anchor added: “He seems to be using his white backpack as a float … they are trying to save him, but he has only one goal and that is to get to the coast and only set foot in Morocco.”
The Spanish Civil Guard approaches a minor in the Strait of Gibraltar as he struggles to swim back to Morocco from the Spanish enclave of Ceuta.
The boy repeatedly refuses to board the ship and angrily kicks his feet to bring himself closer to home.
The officers could only follow him to make sure he wasn’t drowning.
According to police, he had jumped into the water with another boy, who is believed to have made it to the other side of the border.
Reports indicate that dozens of minors have attempted the often dangerous journey back to Morocco in recent days.
A police officer is only meters from the boy and reaches out to pull him towards the water, but the child ignores him and pushes himself towards the Moroccan shores
It comes after they swam in droves last week, including a boy who was filmed gaining weight using plastic bottles as a float.
He was depicted trying to climb a wall barefoot before being held by Spanish soldiers.
But many are now trying to return home after their hopes for a much better life in the Spanish enclave have been stifled by the harsh realities of street life or a long stay in an internment camp, or CEPI (Center for the Participation and Integration of Immigrants).
The return trip can be relatively easy at low tide, when they can just cross some rocks from the Spanish beach of El Tarajal.
But at high tide, people like the boy with the backpack are often forced to swim around the rocks.
Meanwhile, the children who choose to stay in Ceuta hide among the rocks from Spanish patrols, or camp in the mountains in shelters made of sheets and blankets, La Sexta reports.
Migrants had swum around the border separating the Moroccan city of Fnideq from the Spanish city of Ceuta – but now many are trying to swim back home
They have to find food and clean themselves in the sea, while a group fights for a bottle of shampoo.
Estimates suggest there could be about 4,000 Moroccan children in Spanish territory – and many still see them roaming the streets, hoping to avoid being transferred to official asylum for fear of being placed in the CEPI or home to be returned.
However, the lack of documentation makes it nearly impossible to repatriate them, although some families have called for their children to be returned by sharing their photos and contact details on social media.
Other children who can speak to their parents on the phone are told to stay in Ceuta, Spanish media reports.
Heartbreaking images from last week showed bodies washed up on the coast of Ceuta after thousands of migrants attempted to make the crossing.
The huge influx of people, described by some politicians as an ‘invasion’, came amidst the tense relations between Madrid and Rabat over the former’s decision to provide medical treatment to Brahim Ghali, the leader of the Polisario front, which has Covid-19.
The armed group has been fighting for decades for the independence of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony mainly under Moroccan control.
Spain believes Morocco has deliberately opened its borders and turned a blind eye as a form of ‘revenge’ in the ongoing feud.
Youth unemployment is a chronic problem in Morocco, where, according to US government figures, 80 percent of the unemployed are between the ages of 15 and 34.
At least 8,000 migrants have entered Ceuta from Morocco, sparking panic and emergencies as authorities struggled to cope with the unprecedented influx. Pictured: Arrivals gathered outside a warehouse while waiting to be tested for coronavirus
Hundreds of people gathered on the Moroccan side of the border last Wednesday as they attempted to cross Spain, but were blocked after border guards entered.
Ceuta, along with the other North African enclave of Melilla, has the European Union’s only land border with Africa and has long been a magnet for migrants seeking a better life in Europe through Spain.
Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles said last week that Morocco’s inaction towards the migrants was “an aggression of the Spanish borders and of the borders of the European Union.”
“We are not talking about young people aged 16, 17, children aged seven or eight were allowed through according to NGOs … and ignored international law,” she said in an interview with Spanish public radio.
“Call it what you want, but I call it blackmail,” she said, adding “it is not acceptable to endanger the lives of minors or people from your own country.”
The Spanish government said that about 5,600 of the 8,000 migrants had already been returned to Morocco last week and that anyone who reached Ceuta beach would be returned immediately.
Spanish authorities were surprised when thousands of mostly young people started swimming or inflatable rubber rings and dinghies across the border, while Moroccan troops appeared to be looking the other way.
Madrid quickly moved on to return most of the migrants, and peace has largely returned to El Tarajal beach in Ceuta, where hundreds of soldiers have been deployed in armored vehicles.