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Spain accuses Morocco of blackmail as crying migrant boy seen in desperate bid to enter EU

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Spanish authorities have admitted being overwhelmed this week after a staggering 8,000 people crossed from Morocco into Spain. Footage showed one young boy swimming towards El Tarajal beach, in Ceuta, while crying and desperately clinging onto a buoy made of plastic bottles to keep him afloat. It comes as diplomatic tensions between Spain and Morocco have risen recently, with Morocco furious Spain’s decision to give medical treatment to Covid-ridden Brahim Ghali, the leader of the Polisario Front who has been fighting Morocco for decades.

Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles has since accused Morocco of “blackmail” for allowing the sudden surge in migrants crossing the borders, adding it was “an aggression of Spanish borders and of the borders of the European Union”.

She said today: “We are not talking about youths aged 16, 17, children as young as seven or eight were allowed through according to NGOs… ignoring international law.

“Call it what you want but I call it blackmail.

“It is not acceptable to put the lives of minors or of people of one’s own country, at risk.”

The Spanish Government added that around 5,600 of the 8,000 migrants had already been sent back to Morocco.

And there were reportedly no new people entering yesterday as anyone who reached Ceuta’s beach was immediately returned.

Ceuta, as well as Spain’s other North African enclave Melilla, both have the EU’s only land border with Africa,

This has meant they have both attracted migrants over the years.

Morocco is also experiencing high levels of youth unemployment, with 80 percent of unemployed people are aged between 15 and 34, according to US government figures.

This could be a factor for many young migrants seeking a new life across the border.

Some of the migrants who have been returned said they planned to try and cross over into Ceuta again in the future if border controls eased in the same way again.

A 17-year-old male named Mohamed was returned to Fnideg, a town in northern Morocco, from Ceuta this week.

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Upon his return, he said: “I have no future here, I want to work to help my family.”

He said he left behind his studies and his family in Morocco to try to enter Spain in search of a better life.

Hassan, 17, also said: “One day I will try my luck again and I will make it.

Spanish soldiers fired tear gas earlier in the week in an attempt to prevent the migrants from nearing the border fence.

A number of people were injured, according to Moroccan media.

European Commission vice president Margaritis Schinas has shown support for Spain.

He said that Europe “won’t let itself be intimidated by anyone on the issue of migration”.

A number of NGOs have also expressed concern over the number of young people who have crossed over into Ceuta from Morocco.

Amnesty International said in a statement: “Asylum seekers and migrants are being used as pawns in a political game between Morocco and Spain.”

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