More than 6,500 migrants out of the approximately 8,000 who had entered Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta earlier this week have been sent back to Morocco, Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said on Friday.
Marlaska told the Radio COPE the situation was now “normal” compared with the previous days, and hoped that the recent diplomatic spat with Morocco “will be as short as possible”.
Morocco had appeared to loosen its border controls with Ceuta on Monday as thousands of migrants poured into the enclave, a move widely interpreted as retaliation for Spain’s hosting of Western Sahara independence leader Brahim Ghali. Ghali has been in a Spanish hospital since last month.
“It is inconceivable that a humanitarian gesture triggers a situation like the crisis in Ceuta,” said the minister.
Explainer: Spain’s migrant crisis in North Africa
Spain deploys army to patrol border with Morocco after thousands of migrants break in
Over 80 migrants swim from Morocco to Spain’s Ceuta enclave