The day that changed Ceuta – The border crossings that deepened the distance

Tension is a constant presence in the Spanish exclave of Ceuta. Located on the Moroccan Mediterranean coast in North Africa, Ceuta is closer to Morocco in many ways, but it still belongs to Europe. At least on paper.

Being nestled between a dry and hilly landscape, Ceuta is home to a diverse population and Spanish is the official language, but Arabic script can be seen everywhere in the city. Clotheslines stretch like cobwebs throughout Ceuta, and while the laundry flutters in the Mediterranean wind, the locals sit together, often crowded into the few shadowy spots that the city offers. However, the apparent calm that sometimes tends to settle over the exclave is often short-lived.

The day the tensions escalated

Political tensions between Spain and Morocco are always palpable in Ceuta. A six-meter-high border fence separates the exclave from Morocco, guarded by heavily armed Spanish military and miles of barbed wire. On the Moroccan side of the fence, there are numerous refugee camps, some of which have been existing for years and continue to grow.

People from all over Africa try to cross the border into the European Union in Ceuta, despite the high risk involved at the Spanish-Moroccan border. Many believe that the chances are greater here than elsewhere. For many people, this assumption later proved to be a fatal mistake.

In May 2021, political tensions between Spain and Morocco escalated. Due to the Western Sahara conflict.

As a result, a bilateral agreement designed to prevent illegal border crossings was suspended by Morocco, albeit not officially. Moroccan border guards just stopped working.

The long and high border fence between Ceuta and Morocco

The distance deepened  

The systematic disregard of Moroccan security forces had consequences. Thousands of migrants and refugees subsequently tried to reach Ceuta by sea, storming the exclave within a few days. Spanish border guards fiercely confronted the often underage migrants, but still temporarily lost almost complete control.

It was only when Morocco decided to resume border control that the situation calmed down. However, the mood in Ceuta has changed since then.

There were already tensions between the city’s Spanish-origin population and the mostly Moroccan refugees and immigrants. And part of the truth is that behind the colorful house facades in Ceuta, there is a lot of mistrust and misunderstanding from all sides.

Many of the migrants who crossed the border in May were deported within a very short time. The few who are still there have no prospects. Stranded in Ceuta, they wait for others to decide their fate. Meanwhile, the mood in the exclave is slowly but steadily getting worse.

But despite all difficulties, there is still a strong sentiment in the majority of the people of Ceuta to embrace what unites humans of all ethnicities and overcome differences. But there are also sentiments of resentment under the surface.  

Today, the Spanish exclave finds itself at a crossroads, uncertain of what the future holds. In what direction Ceuta will head eventually is not yet clear.

Schreibe einen Kommentar

Deine E-Mail-Adresse wird nicht veröffentlicht. Erforderliche Felder sind mit * markiert

People & Culture

Where the New Year starts with the Moon – Celebrating Lunar New Year in Asia

The Lunar New Year, also known as the Chinese New Year, is an ancient celebration that has been passed down through generations, steeped in tradition, culture, and symbolism. It is a time of reunion, renewal, and hope, as families and communities come together to honor their ancestors and welcome the new year. This year, the […]

Read More
People & Culture

Women in chains: The stolen brides of the Caucasus and Central Asia

“What would be better? If she married a man without money or education out of love?” Suleyka is dressed all in white. Her long lace dress is adorned with pearls and her elaborate wedding hairstyle is shrouded in a veil. We are in a small village in Chechnya. The table is richly laid, carpets hang […]

Read More