Spain seeks help to relocate children from Ceuta migrant crisis

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MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s government pleaded with mainland regions on Wednesday to relieve crammed reception centres for minors in the North African enclave of Ceuta where some 1,500 children and teenagers crossed this week from Morocco.

A source familiar with the talks said the Social Rights Ministry had held an emergency meeting on the issue where it asked regional authorities to accept hundreds of unaccompanied minors who had arrived before the latest surge.

“The regions have shown solidarity with the migration crisis and are positive about the proposal,” the source told Reuters, expecting an agreement in coming days even though centres in regions such as Andalucia or the Canary Islands were already overcrowded.

Reuters TV footage showed hundreds of newly-arrived teenagers being processed at a Ceuta warehouse where Red Cross officials gave out food and drink.

On Wednesday, hundreds of migrants still braved tightened security to try to force their way into Ceuta, as Spain pressed on with expulsions of thousands who had swum round or climbed over the border fence in the past two days.

Spanish police divers have rescued several small children from the water during the crossing and soldiers deployed at the border could be seen helping youngsters to climb ashore

Of the thousands of migrants still in Ceuta, many were children, who cannot be deported. They included children as young as seven or nine, some without families, said Spain’s Social Rights Minister Ione Belarre.

“We are working to address the issue of children who have come alone … Many of them did not know the consequences of crossing the border. And many of them want to go back. So we are working to make that possible,” she told broadcaster TVE.

Meanwhile, Santiago Abascal, the leader of the anti-immigrant far-right VOX party who visited Ceuta on Wednesday, accused Morocco of “launching minors like battering rams” against Spanish borders.

(Writing by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)



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