Posted: Tuesday, May 18, 2021 7:39 PM
When the alarm clock rang this morning at Nayat’s, in the El Príncipe district of Ceuta, time did not seem to have passed. The noise of the helicopters, continuous background noise for the last twelve hours, inaugurated the exceptional nature of what was happening in the autonomous city: an unprecedented migratory crisis, and an unprecedented diplomatic impulse between Spain and Morocco.
Although if we stick to what we see on the sidewalks of Ceuta, it is a question of people. More specifically, of the nearly 85,000 citizens residing in this historic city and of the more than 8,000 migrants who have crossed the border in the past few hours. About 10% of its population.
Ceuta borders the other side of the Strait of Gibraltar and occupies 18.5 square kilometers. Recently isolated by the closure of the border, the autonomous city is traditionally a bustle: a comings and goings of people in schools, in shops, in outpatient clinics. We don’t see much of it now.
“We’re worried, of course,” he told LaSexta Nayat, a teacher from Ceuta, who had trouble falling asleep last night not only because of the sound of the propellers, but also because of the number of messages. exchanged with relatives and acquaintances in the city. “Not so much out of fear but out of anger.”
This feeling is nothing new in Ceuta. But what happened on Tuesday is something else: an unprecedented emergency that overwhelmed the city, which has little to do with the massive jumps to La Valla – as the border is commonly referred to. The real and tangible derivative of all this conflict.
But the anger persists. Angry at always feeling out of place. Anger that they seem to be second-class citizens. Anger to know that yes, that Ceuta is Spain, but also Africa and sometimes it turns into another galaxy.
In addition to all this, there are migrants. And the combination is worrying: “There is a lot of uncertainty and worry. There are a lot of people walking the streets. We are so sorry to see how they have been used a bit. [a los ciudadanos marroquíes que han pasado] as a pressure measure, ”explains Nayat Achiban.
This is the general feeling. The life of the inhabitants of Ceuta has suddenly changed: “We are overwhelmed; the authorities, the same. The streets are full of strangers, without masks, some have even come without clothes. They are without food,” Kamal pulls the other. side. phone Mohamed, president of the Neighborhood Association of El Príncipe neighborhood. “The pressure is total and people are very scared.”
“There are too many for the size of Ceuta,” said the activist. “The neighbors are afraid. They have helped them in what they can, giving them clothes and food. Some citizens welcome them, but the vast majority are in the thousands and they roam the streets.”
The profile of the one who crossed the fence
In fact, this is the problem reported by all Ceuta consulted by laSexta. “I specifically went out this morning to walk around the city to see it with my own eyes,” says Luis – not his real name -, a retired neighbor from Ceuta who prefers to hide his true identity, “and the city is completely full. . young people, aged 17 to 20 “.
According to locals, it is not limited to the area closest to Tarajal Beach, which is the physical border with Morocco. “They are almost all men, and most of them are in the Hadú neighborhood, near the wharf, but also in the center. They also wear clothes from having crossed the water, and are accumulated in establishments where they sell food, and they ask because they come with nothing. ”
“Most of those I have seen, who are mountains and mountains of people, do without masks of any kind. As they are in Morocco, they are here,” sighs the retiree.
Life, “very busy”
Does this mean that life has stopped in Ceuta? No, not much less. But the day to day has changed. “They get a lot of attention, but it doesn’t hamper your movement at all. Taking advantage of the fact that I wanted to see it, I went to a few stores and the business without any problems,” Luis says.
Life “is very busy,” smiles Karim Prim, a businessman from Ceuta, when LaSexta asks. People went to work. The businesses that have closed have been the minimum, although there are also some, for “fear of looting”. For example, Zara. Cafes and restaurants are open, but with the blinds down.
The schools were active, although the truth is that the classrooms were empty. More than half of the students did not go to class, according to sources from the Provincial Directorate of the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MEFP) and the teacher Nayat Achiban supports, according to what was experienced on Tuesday morning. The schoolchildren in Ceuta are split into two teams due to the high ratios, and in the second part of the day they have already recommended those who attended in the first hour of the morning to stay better at home.
“There are a lot of worried parents, who try to contact the teachers. Ask them if it is better for them to take them or not …”, sighs the teacher. “I took my daughter to school today, for example, because she had an exam, but she usually comes home alone and this time I told her to wait at school for us. let’s come get it.
Day after day “irrelevant”
Vaccination, in any case, and as pointed out by the delegation of the government of Ceutí, has not been suspended. Even if health centers “have been affected by the issue of the pandemic, previous appointments”, explains Karim Prim. “Imagine now, with blackouts, problems and drowning … endless. The activity has been paralyzed.”
The streets are on alert, even if there is no insecurity. “Most people prefer to stay at home. There has been no official communication, but military families are warning and an information network is being created. ‘Please stay home and let the state security forces deal with the situation, they are the ones who will try to solve the problem, ”Nayat said.
“This morning I spoke with a lot of people who were worried, especially because someone might come into the house, or hide somewhere, and at night scare them, so they wouldn’t be taken away. There is a bit of paranoia, “sighs.
Entrepreneur Prim offers a similar vision. “It is very difficult to carry out daily life. Ceuta is very small. The traffic of vehicles, alarms, sirens, military cars, hoaxes … and a thousand other things. Been one night and that ‘ “It’s a very busy day. Either they’re bringing people back or …” he laments. “It throws us out of the way.”