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Dozens of Moroccans swim into North African Spanish city

MADRID (AP) — Authorities in Ceuta say over 100 Moroccans, including two families with children, swam overnight to enter the Spanish enclave in North Africa.

Ceuta and nearby Melilla, another Spanish territory, are seen as a stepping stone into Europe by hundreds of African migrants who every year risk injuries or death while trying to jump over fences, hide inside vehicles or by swimming around breakwaters that extend into the Mediterranean Sea.

A 10-meter (32-foot)-tall double fence surrounds the 8 kilometers (5 miles) of Ceuta’s southwestern border with Morocco, with the rest of the tiny territory facing the Strait of Gibraltar and the European mainland across the sea.

A spokesman with Spain’s government’s delegation in Ceuta said groups of Moroccans reached the city by swimming around the breakwater in the border area known as Benzú early Tuesday, followed by a few dozen people near the eastern beach of Tarajal.

The spokesman, who was not authorized to be identified by name, said he couldn’t provide an exact number but said they were “more than 100” and that police were identifying them.

He also said Spanish authorities were in touch with their Moroccan counterparts but that it was too soon to say whether the Moroccans would be deported.

Over 100 young Moroccans also swam into the Spanish territory at the end of April. Authorities said most of them were returned to their country in less than 48 hours after being confirmed as adults.

Spain doesn’t grant Moroccans asylum status. It only allows unaccompanied migrant children to legally remain in the country under the government’s supervision.


Follow AP’s global migration coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/migration

Aritz Parra, The Associated Press