Spain urged to stop the repatriation of hundreds of unaccompanied minors who entered the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in May.
Human rights groups have denounced Spain’s deportation of hundreds of unaccompanied children to Morocco, calling the deportations illegal and calling for an immediate end to the process.
Amnesty International spokesperson Angel Gonzalo said the deportations of minors and refugees started on Friday and continued on Saturday. Spanish radio station Cadena Ser said 15 children had been expelled from the North African enclave of Ceuta so far.
The Home Office did not officially announce the repatriations and did not immediately respond to requests for comment or confirm the number of children affected.
“We are writing to the Home Office to ask them to immediately stop these evictions and to demand transparency on their actions,” Gonzalo said on Saturday, adding that the organization was speaking to prosecutors because “these evictions violate the international law”.
Spain is legally obliged to care for young migrants until their relatives can be located or until they are 18 years old.
Save The Children, meanwhile, urged Spanish authorities to assess the needs of every child and not to deport them en masse. According to the data she collected, around a quarter of the migrant children she interviewed in Ceuta had suffered abuse in their country of origin.
Hundreds of unaccompanied minors were among 10,000 people who tried to enter Ceuta in May by climbing a border fence or swimming around it. Morocco has since taken back most of the migrants.
The episode took place after Spain agreed to provide medical treatment to the Saharawi leader leading the struggle for an independent Western Sahara, which was annexed by Morocco in the 1970s. Rabat reacted furiously and recalled its ambassador in Madrid.
“Repatriations from Ceuta continue today,” Save the Children posted on Twitter on Saturday.
The NGO called to “put an end to it”. “Spain does not guarantee the protection of minors,” he said.
Ione Belarra, leader of the far-left Podemos party, a junior member of the ruling coalition in Spain, also criticized the transfers in a letter to Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska.
“We have been informed by children’s organizations that the repatriation of minors has started,” she wrote in the letter published in the online daily El Confidencial.
She said the operation could take place “without strict compliance” with various Spanish and international laws.