While the tension between Morocco and Spain is at its height, with an upsurge in clandestine migration in Ceuta, Mehdi Alioua, a doctor in sociology specialising in international migration issues, explains his point of view on the events that have been taking place in the Spanish enclave for several days.
The problem of migration in Ceuta is at the centre of all news to the point of worrying Europe. Isn’t it one of the most important migrations in recent years?
I wouldn’t exactly call it migration. A migration, or a migrant, is a person who has moved his or her place of residence to a country other than his or her own in order to live there for at least one year. Here, we are talking about enclaves in Spain, and some come from neighbouring shores just across the shore. It would be almost like a city divided into different areas, so I don’t know if you can really call it migration. But there have also been migrants who are not Moroccan but who reside in Morocco who have crossed over in the hope of reaching the European continent.
There are certainly also many Moroccans who passed through Ceuta thinking that they would be able to go back to Spain. However, I think that the majority knew that this was not possible, because there are agreements, and that even minors are sometimes automatically sent back to the other side.
What are the causes of these migrations?
There are many reasons for migration: a sick uncle, the loss of a loved one, work, studies… There are almost as many reasons as there are migrants. But the cause of migration from Ceuta comes from the co-management by Morocco and Spain of this same border. However, Morocco did not really find this co-management to be worthwhile, and realising that Spain was not giving it much in return for its services, stopped monitoring the border. Indeed, Morocco no longer has any reason to do so, as it does not really co-manage the border and is only a supplementary player if Spain does not consider it a partner.
Can the events in Ceuta therefore be included in the migration register?
The Ceuta crisis is not a migration crisis, but a diplomatic crisis between Morocco and Spain. It is a territorial, border crisis where nations are fighting, in a way, over the territoriality of certain spaces.
Mehdi Alioua has a doctorate in sociology and has been a professor of sociology, particularly on the issue of international migration, since 2003. He is also editor-in-chief of an academic journal, Afrique(s) en mouvement, of which three issues have already been published, and the fourth will be released in a few months.