THE Valencian government has pledged to house an unlimited number of underage migrants who have arrived in Ceuta (Moroccan border with Spain) this week.

A diplomatic clash between Spain and Morocco led to a surge of more than 8,000 people swimming or boating into El Tarajal beach in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta at the beginning of the week, until the Moroccan border controls were tightened up again and many of the new arrivals were returned to the North African country.

Media reports showed mainly young men being helped by Red Cross volunteers as they landed, shattered and desperate, on the shore.

Ceuta border
Immigrants line up in front of the border between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta this week

Iconic images included Guardia Civil officers rescuing babies from the water and one Red Cross worker hugging a man who broke into tears upon landing ashore – a shot that was widely shared and commented on social media.

As the central government struggled to find a solution to the crisis, the Valencia regional executive stepped up to the challenge and offered to take in as many underage and unaccompanied young men and women as necessary.

After taking part in an emergency crisis meeting with all the Spanish regions, Generalitat vice-president Monica Oltra this morning (Thursday May 20) announced that Valencia will ‘lend a hand’ wherever necessary without ‘arguing over numbers’.

Oltra underlined the regional government’s solidarity with Ceuta and with all the other Spanish autonomous communities that frequently receive people ‘escaping from the horror’, such as the Canary Islands and Andalucia.

Ceuta Immirantion 2
Spanish vice-president Yolanda Diaz shares the photograph of a Red Cross volunteer consoling a recently arrived migrant, describing the image as ‘a symbol of hope and solidarity’

In her speech, the Valencian vice-president urged the central government to abide by the United Nations human rights’ charters with regards to children to prevent their on-the-spot repatriation – known in Spanish as devoluciones en caliente.

Oltra added that the Spanish executive is working on a programme to allocate numbers of newly arrived minors to each region according to a series of criteria, including total population figures, economic situation and availability of infrastructure.

She also called for the national Foreigners’ Law to be reformed to enable underage boys and girls taken into State care to acquire Spanish nationality, as is the case with international adoptions. 

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