The Spanish soldiers deployed on the beach of Tarajal, next to the border with Morocco, to try to contain the massive arrival of immigrants that has brought more than 6,000 people to the autonomous city since Monday, barely provide enough to help foreigners that arrive exhausted at the border sand. “We do not have figures or those that we have taken to the hospital,” says Isabel Brasero, spokesperson for the Red Cross. The emergency teams look like hares walking along the shore. From one end to the other of the stretch of beach that borders the gate that gives access to the border crossing, exhausted people rest, almost all of sub-Saharan origin.
At the foot of the waves, a young man tries to walk with cloudy eyes and a small infant muff in hand. Two soldiers exhort him to cross between the stones of the dike, but the lack of strength makes him stop between two rocks. Can’t get up. The soldiers end up carrying him flying by the feet and hands, encouraging him: “Come on, the Red Cross is there.” Finally he collapses face down on the ground and there is hardly time to attend to him because the health team runs to try to revive another young man on the verge of convulsing from fatigue or hypothermia. “Put him on his back!” They yell, before reaching out and making sure he’s breathing. On Monday, a person died trying to swim in Ceuta.
The troops of the Army, deployed with four armored vehicles, have been taking the boys out of the water with the appearance of minors. They sit on the shore, as if waiting for someone to give them the order to move. The Army has gone to the ships of the Tarajal, where a good part of the immigrants is concentrated, mainly the minors. He has also taken armored vehicles to the beach of Tarajal. In the sand there are groups of young people standing in the water, in front of the military, who have formed a cordon on the shore.
A few meters from the sand, the heads of swimmers protrude who have not yet come close to the shore. Between the two breakwaters, protected by bars, four armored ones are arranged in front of the perimeter fence. The sound of blanking comes from the area. They are smoke boats that Moroccan forces launch on the other side of the fence. The soldiers strive to return the kids who run around on the stretch of beach that resembles no-man’s-land. Five young people rest on the ground, exhausted and cared for by the Red Cross.
After noon, the situation seems to have calmed down a bit after the frenzy in the early hours of the day. On the beach, back to Morocco, groups of young people walk back home. They return voluntarily, after spending the night on the street. Amar, from Ceutí, says that a few hours ago he left his cousin next to the border, on his way back to Fnideq, old Castillejos. “What was I going to do here?”
Fátima (fictitious name), also from Ceuta, prowls around the Tarajal warehouse, where the approximately 1,500 minors who entered on Monday sat on the ground waiting for the Red Cross volunteers to serve the ranch. He tries to find his cousin’s 16-year-old son. “We don’t know anything about him”, he worries, “my cousin called me yesterday (Monday) afternoon, crying; he has spent all afternoon and all night here (in Ceuta) ”. “He entered to enter,” he is indignant, “he saw with the kids that the border was open and began to swim.”
Relatives residing in Ceuta and parents who crossed as a family despair trying to find the children who have not even been registered yet. Samira, a 35-year-old neighbor of Fnideq, does have her 15-year-old son Ilias under control. Both crossed swimming through the northern area of Benzú on Monday afternoon. The mother shouts from a wall on the polygon where the ship is located. “Ilias!” He yells; and the boy greets from the din of children sitting on the ground. “People have nothing there,” he laments, “my 20-year-old daughter wants to study, she wants clothes, she wants everything, and I can’t give her anything.”
The woman earned 400 euros a month as a domestic worker in Ceuta before the border was closed, in March 2020, in the face of the covid-19 pandemic. Now he tries to make do with what, from time to time, his former employer sends him. “It helps me, but not much,” he says, “one month yes and another no.” He is more concerned about his health card as a contributor to social security and his work permit, both of which have expired. “I had all my papers and now I have come here as an irregular”, she comments, “now, with my son, what am I going to do? If I am sent back to Morocco, do I leave it here? It breaks my heart ”.