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Human rights must be front and centre in response to the humanitarian situation in Ceuta

A statement on behalf of the Left group in the European Parliament:

While 10000 women, men and children have attempted to reach the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in North Africa in the past days, the Left group in the European Parliament is calling on the EU and Spanish government to put human rights at the heart of a humanitarian response to the crisis.

Our group reiterates the importance of dignified reception, with medical and social services guaranteed for all those currently in Ceuta, a humanitarian response that is not army-oriented or feeds stereotypes on migrants and refugees. All applications for asylum must be carefully and individually examined. Critically, the pushbacks of migrants must be immediately halted, and our group is deeply concerned by reports and footage which show the pushbacks of unaccompanied minors.

We call on the authorities to urgently relocate unaccompanied minors, families with children and vulnerable people to the mainland. Such efforts must be supported and expanded. Our group welcomes the decisions by different Spanish regions in the mainland to relocate minors and ensure their rights.

We also express our concern regarding the criminalisation of NGOs in the press, including by right-wing activists and some media outlets. Defenders of human rights are being attacked and the EU has a responsibility to protect them.

In addition, this crisis once again highlights the EU’s unacceptable migration policy. We believe the continuous outsourcing of border control to Morocco will only lead to more deaths and violation of human rights. Our group thus calls for an immediate end of this policy which not only violates human rights, but has empowered autocratic regimes in Morocco and Turkey.

The Left in the European Parliament also strongly denounces Morocco for using its people’s lives, including its own citizens, to obtain its political goals; it had previously done so when agriculture and fisheries agreements with the EU were annulled by the European Court of Justice over Western Sahara.

This crisis in Ceuta is Morocco’s direct response to the news that the leader of the Polisario Front has been receiving medical treatment in Spain. Once again, Morocco is using migrants as political pawns. We utterly condemn Rabat in the strongest terms for sacrificing human lives in their diplomatic blackmailing of the European Union.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Del Pino Rojas, taken in Ceuta during an MEP visit in 2017