Spain hopes to immediately resume the deportation of Moroccans | Spain

Two young Moroccan migrants in handcuffs arrive at the airport in Las Palmas, Canary Islands to be deported by the police, in December 2020.
Two young Moroccan migrants in handcuffs arrive at the airport in Las Palmas, Canary Islands to be deported by the police, in December 2020.Javier Bauluz

Spain hopes to resume “immediately” the deportations of Moroccan immigrants in an irregular situation, according to police sources. The reactivation this Monday of international flights to Morocco, suspended for two months to stop the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, will also mean resuming the returns of immigrants by air, according to the same sources. “We trust it,” they maintain.

Since the pandemic began and Morocco closed its borders with Ceuta and Melilla in March 2020, Spain has had very restricted deportations of Moroccan immigrants. With the crisis of arrivals in the Canary Islands in 2020, he managed to start an agreement with Rabat to return Moroccans on planes, but the flights were barely maintained from December 2020 to April 2021, when Morocco suspended them under a health pretext. Currently, Rabat already accepted a limited quota of returns by land, but for the Interior the reactivation of deportation flights from Gran Canaria was key. The maritime borders will continue to be closed “until further notice,” according to Efe.

The negotiation of the resumption of deportations of Moroccans was one of the priority and most delicate issues in the redirection of relations with Morocco after the crisis unleashed in May last year due to the Spanish position on the sovereignty of the Sahara and the entry of more than 10,000 people in Ceuta.

Interior, as usual, has avoided confirming when these deportation flights will resume, but a communication from the General Immigration and Borders Commissioner to which EL PAÍS has had access confirms that the Police are already warned and prepared for the foreseeable start of the flights. According to this document, Morocco’s announcement that it would open its airspace this Monday means that “repatriations of citizens of that nationality can be resumed.”

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It is not yet clear under what terms the deportation flights will resume. The agreement with Morocco was that the Police could return 20 Moroccans on each Royal Air Maroc plane that makes the Gran Canaria-El Aaiún route, the capital of Western Sahara. With four weekly flights, Interior managed to return 80 immigrants per week, a limited number but which, according to the Police, had a great deterrent effect.

All deportation flights are a taboo subject for the government, which refuses to give information about their costs and the nationality and number of immigrants returned. In the case of the flights agreed with Morocco, the Interior has systematically refused to report, for example, how much the hundreds of tickets it had to buy from the Royal Air Maroc company cost, how many Moroccans it returned or how many police officers it has had to mobilize to supervise each flight. The Transparency Council, the independent public body that supervises compliance with the Transparency Law, to which EL PAÍS turned, warned the ministry on July 16 of the “significance” of this information for the “control of public action” and of “knowledge of how public funds are spent”. He gave him 10 days to respond, but he still hasn’t.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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