Hundreds of children who crossed into Ceuta from Morocco last week are sleeping rough in parks or in warehouses that were hastily turned into shelters for them.
“We’re working to address the issue of children who have come alone,” the minister for social rights, Ione Belarra, told Spanish broadcaster RTVE. “It’s important to understand that we’re seeing children that are much younger than the usual – children of seven, eight, nine years old.”
More than 8,000 migrants last week crossed into Ceuta but most of those have now been returned to Morocco. At least two people died attempting the crossing.
The enclave is under huge pressure, officials said.
“We cannot cope, there are too many children,” Carlos Rontome, one of the city’s deputy leaders, told Spanish national radio.
The warehouses, where the authorities are attempting to get the child migrants to observe a 10 day quarantine for coronavirus, are short of beds and facilities.
“I want to get out of here,” one youth told El Pais. “I would prefer to sleep in an abandoned car, like I did the first few days here. It’s more comfortable,” another told ElDiario.es.
Amnesty International said in a statement, “Amnesty is reminding the authorities that they must ensure that the best interests of the child are protected in all cases and that these young people must be able – if appropriate – to request international protection.”
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