Aya y Mohamed they are minors. They entered Ceuta I swam just six months ago. They were cold, they were afraid, but they do not regret it. They both miss their family. They want to see them again, but not now: “Spain is better”, they agree.
“Aya and Mohamed: “Spain is better” “
Ceuta, Spain, Europe, means for them education, opportunity. Now they study at the Almina and Clara Campoamor institutes, they learn the language, make new friends and are building their new life. They live in a reception center, like 400 other compatriots who arrived in May. They both like to study, they want to keep doing it. Professionals like Abdeselam Hamed. He is a technical professor of community services and tells us about the physical and mental strength that these boys have shown. He believes that their evolution will continue and he hopes to have great results at the end of the course: “They come wanting to learn.”
Aya and Mohamed, like many other boys and girls, have begun to integrate. Abdeselam is sure that they will finish it when they have fully mastered the language. They have told Iñigo Alfonso at the beginning of the special on the six months of the massive entry of immigrants to Ceuta.
They are one side of the coin. The other star is Mohamed, Said o Mohamed. They have been living on the street for six months. They sleep under cardboard in the port. They look for food at the door of the supermarkets in Ceuta or asking the neighbors on the street. They don’t want to go to a center: “In the center everything is bad,” says one of them. They fear being sent back to Morocco and therefore prefer to organize on their own.
Your goal is to reach the Peninsula. Some of them have already tried: “I managed to get on the ferry, on the underside of a truck“. They discovered it, but he is determined to do it again. The Government of Ceuta estimates that there are some 130 children living on the street.
“Mohamed: “I managed to get on the ferry, in the underside of a truck”“
Red Cross try to ensure that none of them lack the basics. Your volunteers, twice a week, they map and comb the city at dawn looking for those who live on the street. They try not to spend the night in the open. Nights with wind, with humidity, with cold. They are transferred to the now famous Naves del Tarajal, where they have food and a warm bed. From there they can enter and leave, but they do not know it and for that reason, the majority reject it. They are afraid to be returned to Morocco. We have spent a whole night with them, watching and listening to how they organize.
Women doubly vulnerable
Few women are usually found at immigrant entrances. Those who take that step tend to have a particularly difficult situation. Some have suffered abuses at the border and they come out of very complicated family situations that, little by little, are detecting the ONG. They are tried to give them special protection but when they turn 18, that help disappears.
“Muna, 18-year-old: “I’m better here than in Morocco. If they take me out of Ceuta, I’ll try to swim back in”“
That is the case of Muna, another of the protagonists of our program today from Ceuta. She has lived in the chalets with the girls but has already been expelled from the child protection system. In any case, she does not want to return: “I am not afraid. I am better here than in Morocco. If they take me out of Ceuta, I would do the same again: try to swim in here“, he assures.
Collaboration with Morocco
The situation of minors is something that worries and overflows the Government of Ceuta. Its president tells us, Juan Jesus Alive, who insists that where the children are best, is with their families. He defends the attitude that the people of Ceuta had with the massive influx of immigrants and calls for diplomatic work to prevent this from happening again: “We need means, infrastructure and a lot of diplomatic action so that this does not happen again. Without the collaboration of Morocco it is very difficult for the border to work. “
“Juan Jesús Vivas: “Without the collaboration of Morocco, it is very difficult for the border to function”“
Vivas wants the border to be opened with “conditions” and for the Moroccan authorities to collaborate. He also hopes that there will be work with Morocco to address the problem of child poverty. Recognizes that the vast majority of minors They do not want to return, but remember that the city does not have the resources to serve them as they need: “We are not a prison city. We have to find a balance. It is a matter of state. Imagine that Madrid had to host half a million people in one day ”. He concludes by acknowledging concern about the use of this issue by certain political parties, but adds that society is mature and that Ceuta has already set a lot of example.
Should they be transferred to the Peninsula?
Very critical of the decision to transfer some of them to Morocco are the NGOs and social organizations that work inside and outside of Ceuta. They all agree that the city cannot serve them as they need, because it does not have resources or space, and they defend their immediate transfer to the Peninsula.
“We are in a dead end of which all the people who entered in May are victims. It is time to put on the table what remains to be done ”, he assures Neus Arnal, Emergency Coordinator of Save the Children en Ceuta. According to this NGO, 99% percent of minors do not want to return to Morocco despite the difficult circumstances in which they find themselves in Ceuta. “They tell us that it is a country in which they cannot find a decent future. Many of them flee from domestic or gender violence, have been victims of trafficking, forced begging or have tried to be kidnapped to be victims of organ trafficking ”.
“Save the Children: “It is time to put on the table what remains to be done”“
Very similar the idea that defends Itziar Gómez, professor of Constitutional Law at the Carlos III University and member of the Board of Trustees of the Fundación Raíces. She says that it is necessary to speak with minors, victims in most cases, and believes that it is necessary to rebuild the solidarity system. He is committed to street work and social education and defends that the only option is to transfer the children to the Peninsula: “If not, they are going to get into the underside of a truck and we are going to have many deaths in our consciences.”
“Itziar Gomez: “They are going to get into the underside of a truck and we are going to have many deaths on our consciences.”“
Patricia Fernández, the lawyer of the Coordinadora de Barrios who once denounced the return of some minors to Morocco against their will, adds: “The transfer to the peninsula, when we know that there are places available, is the first measure to guarantee their well-being. Your circumstances can be assessed. In Ceuta it is impossible to take good care of these children, it is an impossible mission ”. Fernández recalls that by going to the peninsula the possibility of being returned is not annulled, if it is considered necessary: “What has been decided is to keep the children in Ceuta because that way we have the excuse to say, as in Ceuta they are wrong, the we return to their country ”.
We have sought the last point of view of the program on the other side of the border, in Morocco. Mercedes Jiménez is an anthropologist and lives in Tangier. He says that we must assume that we cannot be well on one side of the border if we are not well on the other and regrets that this process has been done badly: “The Spanish Cooperation finances projects to work with these children. When they cross, they become a problem. We have done something wrong that, with a little collaboration, could have been done well ”. Jiménez says that in Morocco there are also organizations that work with children and that together they could have avoided the situation that is now six months old.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.