In a week (from May 17-23), approximately 8000 people attempted to migrate from Morocco to a Spanish territory, Cueta, on the African mainland, including a 14-year-old boy using plastic bottles as a flotation device. Footage played in the media showed the boy swimming and clinging to a buoy. The coverage of the mass exodus captured the boy, crying but making it to shore and removing the soda bottles which were stuffed in his pants and tied around his waist.
It is said that African officials removed guards and allowed the mass influx to make a point about a feud over Spain providing medical treatment to “a militant leader who has been fighting Morocco for decades” according to reports.
The boy, filmed and photographed by media, was captured by the Spanish authorities and processed for return to Morocco. Spanish authorities are processing and returning most of the migrants, many of whom vow to try again. About 2000 of the migrants were unaccompanied minor children. “A large arrival of people is not an excuse for illegal collective expulsion. Amongst those 5,000 summarily returned there may be individuals eligible for asylum or in need of protection. Pushing people back is unlawful and denies them their right to a fair and individualized evaluation of their asylum claims,” said Virginia Álvarez, head of Internal Policy and researcher at Amnesty International Spain.