After a chaotic repatriation on Saturday, Morocco and Ceuta agreed to allow 37 Moroccans to return in the wee hours of Monday morning.
Rabat – Morocco opened the border with the Spanish enclave city of Ceuta at 1 a.m. this morning for a repatriation of 37 stranded Moroccans on an approved list.
The repatriation is the third operation to return Moroccans stuck in Ceuta. While numbers vary between media reports, approximately 300 Moroccans returned from Ceuta in the first repatriation on Friday, May 22.
Another 45 Moroccans returned in a second, somewhat chaotic operation on Saturday.
The 37 who returned to Morocco in the repatriation early this morning had mostly been staying in private homes in Ceuta, according to Spanish outlet El Pueblo de Ceuta. The enclave city has also been hosting stranded Moroccans who had no place to stay in La Libertad Sports Stadium.
It is unclear if any of the people who were staying at La Libertad were able to return to Morocco in the early hours of Monday. Some of those who returned had gathered to wait in a mosque before the late-night repatriation.
Working off of a list the Moroccan government created, the Luna Blanca Association called dozens of Moroccans in Ceuta to notify them of the opportunity to return home.
However, because some people said they now had new jobs in Ceuta, the organization had to make many calls before completing a list of 40 Moroccans wanting to return, El Pueblo reports.
In the end, only 37 crossed the border, according to El Foro de Ceuta.
Mixed up lists
The Monday morning repatriation followed a messy operation on Saturday, May 23. According to Ceuta TV, a local organization in the city created the list of 100 people to benefit from the operation.
Fifty-five people on the list had been staying in La Libertad in “precarious conditions,” Ceuta’s public television RTVCE said.
Morocco then validated the list, but ultimately the governments of Ceuta and Morocco only agreed on the names of 45 people for the repatriation. And of the 45, only 15 came from La Libertad.
The Ceuta television station explains that some Moroccans on the list of 100 refused to leave Ceuta. Others wanted to take their place, but Morocco and Ceuta could not agree on an amended list.
Some Moroccans staying at La Libertad arrived at the border only to find they were not on the official list.
Beyond the discrepancies of the repatriations, Morocco and Spain differ significantly on the total number of people to be repatriated.
According to the city of Ceuta, there were originally 700 stranded Moroccans in the enclave. Morocco had a list of just 280.
Morocco closed the border on March 13. Since then, Ceuta housed some of the stranded Moroccans in La Libertad Sports Center.
However, after the initial repatriation operations, the city said it will close the sports center. The city has asked the general state administration to take care of the remaining people staying there.
In addition to Ceuta, Morocco began repatriating citizens from the enclave of Melilla on May 15. Citizens who return agree to a compulsory quarantine of 14 days in a hotel.