Spain returns 1,500 migrants to Morocco after Ceuta entry

The unprecedented number of arrivals, which occurred at a time of tension in Madrid's ties with Rabat, prompted Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to cancel a trip to Paris later on Tuesday where he was to attend an Africa financing summit, the government said.

Migrants speak with Spanish Civil guards after swimming to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta from neighbouring Morocco on May 17, 2021. Antonio Sempere / AFP

MADRID - Spain returned to Morocco 1,500 of some 6,000 migrants who entered its Ceuta enclave as hundreds more tried to reach its other north African enclave Tuesday, prompting the premier to cancel a Paris trip.

The massive influx, which was a record number for a single day, had steadily made their way into Ceuta throughout the day on Monday, prompting a crisis in the tiny territory which is home to some 84,000 people.

The unprecedented number of arrivals, which occurred at a time of tension in Madrid's ties with Rabat, prompted Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to cancel a trip to Paris later on Tuesday where he was to attend an Africa financing summit, the government said.

Meanwhile, the local authorities in Melilla, Spain's other north African enclave, said more than 300 migrants had tried to cross the barrier into the territory before dawn on Tuesday, with 86 of them succeeding.

In an interview with public television TVE, Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said "around 6,000 people" had entered Ceuta on Monday.

"At this time, we have returned 1,500 of those people and we are proceeding to continue with this return and get the situation back to normal," he said.

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