Escaping to Europe

Escaping to Europe

Ceuta (Spain) They hide under the freights of parked trucks in the port of Ceuta. There they wait impatiently. Their dream is to arrive at the Iberian peninsula and the to travel on to France, Germany, Italy and England. There are hundreds of young Moroccans and Algerians who every day try to get to Europe by taking advantage of the trucks in the port within the small Spanish enclave. Many of them are younger than 20, while the majority of them are still just minors.

With the hope of achieving a better life, they have left their families in search of good fortune on the continent which is only 30 kilometers away. When the sun is high and the clouds make way for blue sky, the Spanish city of Algeciras seems to be so near. So, many decide to cross. Not only sub-Saharan Africans. With the desire to leave their country there are also hundreds of young Moroccans. They arrive day and night to the port of Ceuta, trying not to be noticed by anyone: they hide underneath the truck freights, measuring the tight space and memorising the times of departure of the ships from the bay. Then, when the moment is right, the cling to the underside of the vehicle, ready to embark and to wait.

“I want to get to Spain”, says a young 19 year-old from Tètouan who we find parked amongst the parked freights. “I don’t want to be here in Morocco, there’s no future here. The only solution is to go away, only in Europe will I find work”. “Spain, Spain!”, yells the groups as they leave after being discovered. Then they start running frantically to a new position between one truck and another in search of the perfect hiding place. There are many who try, but not all are able to make it to the Iberian peninsula. Many are blocked by the security forces that maintain control of the facilities present in the port zone, others lose their lives, crushed between the spaces which can be unpredictable under the freights. “Yesterday one of our friends died trying to cross – explains a young person -. But we have no other choice”.

The anger of the drivers

“We carry the merchandise to the ships from the land border of Tarajal and vice versa”, explains Fernando, a drive to the port of Ceuta . “When coming and going from the industrial zone, we are checked every time. The majority of the time we notice if there are young people on board and we quickly notify the Civil Guard”. The drivers therefore live in fear. “In the port they do what they want and we don’t have a solution”, they explain. “In the past few years, the situation has become untenable – the men continue with anger -. We are always in danger: these young people threaten us, they are aggressive, they steal from our trucks. Every day we must risk so much”.

At the port it is often the case that violence breaks out between the migrants that live amongst the cliffs waiting for the best moment to hide on the trucks. But the drivers themselves are also victims of aggression from the young Moroccans and Algerians. “Many of my colleagues have been beaten up, some have even ended up in the hospital”, the drivers reveal. One of them is now on trial for having run over one of these youths with his truck. “The Moroccans attack the trucks and it is difficult to keep the situation under control – explains Fernando -. They try to sneak onto the vehicles, even when they are already moving. So my friend ran over a boy and now he is being accused of murder. It’s crazy”.

The security

The Civil Guard constantly patrols the port of the small Spanish enclave. In one of their most recent operations, the force stopped 92 boys of Moroccan origins, 39 of which were minors, and one young Algerian. They were found between the freights of the trucks parked in the port. “These youths don’t understand the danger which they are putting themselves in”, explains Alfonso Cruzado, spokesperson of the Ceuta Civil Guard. “ They are just impatient to cross the strait and arrive in Europe, without thinking about the risks. They have a distorted idea of what they will find on the other side”, the agent continues with audible regret.

A new barrier

In order to reach the trucks, the young Moroccans and Algerians have created an entrance in the barrier which designates the port zone. Now however the authorities are determined to stop all forms of migration and so have decided to construct a new protective wall. The project, valued at 2.7 million euros, was announced by the president of the Port Authority at the end of April: the construction will have a height of 4 meters and work should be finished by next December. The drivers are enthusiastic about the barrier even if they believe that the new wall will not prevent these boys, who are willing to do anything in order to get to Europe.