Friday, 9 July 2010
The slow boat to Ceuta
This enclave - recently branded an "occupied city" by Moroccans of the non-shopaholic variety - is where I've decided to explore the border dynamics of the new Europe in a bit more detail. The Strait of Gibraltar is, in the words of one Spanish journalist, a laboratory for the border regime being rolled out across the EU's external frontier. Gazing out over the waters, you can make out the Peñón - the Rock of Gibraltar - in the distance. "Mainland Europe", as it were, is frustratingly close for many irregular sub-Saharan migrants, who squeeze into inflatable boats to do the 14 km crossing. Some of those who are intercepted - and pretty much all are - end up in Ceuta's migrant reception centre on the outskirts of town. Others are sent straight back to Morocco. With summer kicking in, the numbers will surely rise in a seasonal flux that seems to continue despite the economic crisis that is triggering noisy trade union protests day in, day out along Ceuta's shady shopping street.