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Demystifier: Why The Shores Of Spain Saw An Influx Of 8000 Moroccan Migrants

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Written by: Chirali Sharma

This week when around 8,000 Moroccan migrants, as per the latest reports, tried to enter Spanish borders into the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla caused worldwide news.

Such a high number of people trying to migrate to another place all at the same time was seldom seen before.

Fernando Grande-Marlaska the Interior Minister revealed that around 200 troops along with 200 extra police officers were joining Ceuta’s own 1,100 officers strong border force.

The migrants started to arrive in Ceuta around 02:00 (midnight GMT) on Monday and the number just kept increasing from thereon.

It was said that they traveled through the sea and one person lost their life while trying to migrate. Around Tuesday the numbers crossed 5,000 migrants and now the latest reports reveal around 8,000 migrants from Morocco have made the attempt to enter Ceuta.

Ceuta is a small Spanish autonomous city that just spans around 20 square kilometers. Juan Jesús Vivas, the president of Ceuta also said “It’s such a strong invasion that we are not able to calculate the number of people that have entered.” 

But why exactly is such a high number of people trying to migrate to Ceuta all at once?

Why Are People Migrating?

Apparently, this has to do with the Moroccan government relaxing border controls over the week after Spain allowed Brahim Ghali, leader of the Algeria-backed Polisario Front, to get medical treatment for COVID-19 in a hospital in Spain.

Ghali and the Polisario Front are strong opponents of Morocco’s rule over the Western Sahara area.

The Moroccan government, on the other hand, saw nothing wrong in relaxing its borders which led to this influx of migration.

The Moroccan Minister of State for Human Rights, Mustapha Ramid, wrote on his Facebook that “What did Spain expect from Morocco, which sees its neighbor hosting the head of a group that took up arms against the kingdom?”

This led many people who used to live in Spain, particularly Ceuta and other areas to attempt to make their return and get to work.

Most of the Moroccan migrants that had been living in these European regions were sent back once the COVID-19 pandemic started to increase and borders were closed.

But now they wanted to return to these regions so that they could once again start their work and earn some money.


As per reports Amina Farkani, a 31-year-old Moroccan woman who worked in Ceuta for almost 18 years until 2020, said that she saw an opportunity to return to work and earn a living when she got the news that police were no longer controlling the border as strictly as before.

According to Farkani the border control officers on Morocco’s side also did not really try to stop the people from leaving. Talking to the Associated Press she said, “They let people pass and stand there without speaking. People just pass and pass and pass.”

Reports also reveal though that many of the migrants are choosing to return even if they don’t want to.

A BBC report also gave the account of migrant Mokhtar Gonbor, a 30-year-old man who said, “We’ve got no food, no money and we were sleeping in the street last night.” 

Mohamed another 30-year-old from Morocco commented on how the main reason for trying to cross the borders was because of work.

As per a BBC report, he said “I want to work and help my family. All of my friends, we want to work.”

Spain’s Interior Ministry has managed to return around 6500 people that migrated.

This is not the first time though that such a high number of migration is being seen, especially through these areas.

Many African and other migrants trying to enter Europe through Ceuta and Melilla, seeing it as a way to stable employment and a better life.

In 2020 around 2,228 people tried to migrate to these enclaves through both sea and land, even with the risk of heavy injuries and death.

Migrants Spain morocco

Morocco Using Migrants As Pawns?

Morocco is also being accused of using migrants in a diplomatic dispute with Spain over the latter’s allowance of giving Ghali medical aid in its hospitals.

Spain’s Defence Minister Margarita Robles has accused Morocco of trying to blackmail the former. Many reports have claimed how passive the Moroccan authorities were when dealing with the migrants and were not really doing much to stop them from crossing the borders.

Robles stated that Morocco had put lives in danger by loosening border controls and allowing thousands of migrants to swim into Ceuta “for a purpose I certainly don’t understand”.

They also told RNE, a radio station that “We will not accept any blackmail, no matter how small, or any questioning of our territorial integrity.” 

Several reports and political analysts have theorized that this was Morocco getting back at Spain for giving the Polisario Front’s leader medical aid in their hospital. Also, a Spanish journalist Ignacio Cembrero commented to VOA that “The Moroccan foreign minister, Naser Burita, said in January that Rabat wanted Spain to change its policy to support Moroccan claims over Western Sahara. This is how it puts pressure on Madrid.” 

Analysts have opined that this is Morocco trying to prove a political point to Spain. Estrella Galan, director of the non-profit Spanish Commission to Aid Refugees, stated that “What has happened in Ceuta is another example of how Morocco plays with migration as a manner to pursue its own interests. The EU should not give ground faced with this pressure.” 

Apparently, Morocco has done something similar to this on a smaller scale when it wanted to influence certain policies in Madrid and the European Union (EU).

Note: The article was originally published here.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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