Fernández Marugán travels to Ceuta and Melilla to hold meetings with authorities and NGO´s

Fernández Marugán travels to Ceuta and Melilla to hold meetings with authorities and NGO´s


The Ombudsman (in office), Francisco Fernández Marugán, has made an official visit to the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla from the 1st to the 4th of June to meet with authorities and NGO representatives.

Fernandez Marugán wanted to know first hand the situation in both cities after the entry of numerous foreigners swimming into Ceuta the week of May 17. The Ombudsman is particularly concerned about the reception of unaccompanied foreign minors.

In addition, during the visit, he will be interested in the residents of the Temporary Stay Centers of both cities and will insist again on the need to provide schooling to a group of children born in Melilla, whose parents are foreigners in an irregular situation.

In Ceuta he attended meetings with the President of the Autonomous City, Juan Jesús Vivas, and the Government Delegate, Salvadora Mateos, among other authorities.

In Melilla he met with the vice-president, Gloria Rojas and other councilors of the Government of Melilla, and also held a meeting with the delegate of the Government, Sabrina Moh.

Furthermore, in both cities he also conducted meetings with representatives of civil society and visited some centers and facilities for migrants.

Situation of minors

During his visit, Fernandez Marugán paid special attention to the situation of the children who remain in Ceuta after the mass swim entries of people from Morocco two weeks ago.

Recently, the Ombudsman made four recommendations to the Ministry of Social Rights and Agenda 2030 to improve the protection of these minors. In this regard, the Ombudsman welcomes the fact that the aforementioned Ministry is promoting the allocation of 200 minors who were under the guardianship of the autonomous city of Ceuta among the Autonomous Communities.

The Ombudsman has been emphasizing for years that the reception of these children should not be assumed exclusively by the autonomous community or city in which they arrive, but should be shared in solidarity among all the autonomous communities.

On the other hand, Fernandez Marugán has been interested in young people formerly under guardianship. Year after year, in Melilla, many minors reach the age of legal adulthood undocumented and are left on the streets. The Ombudsman considers itessential for the General State Administration to plan, in coordination with the regional child protection agencies, the transition to adulthood of these children. In this sense, the Ombudsman will again insist on the need to increase coordination, so that none of them is left in a street situation when they reach the age of 18.


Out-of-school children

In Melilla, the Ombudsman has once again brought to the attention of the competent authorities the situation of a group of children who are not being provided with schooling.

Despite repeated requests from the Ombudsman and the reports of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Provincial Bureau of Education in Melilla continues not to provide schooling to a group of minors who were born in Melilla or who have been living in the
autonomous city for years. The Ombudsman has initiated several actions and made suggestions to the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training to try to resolve this situation.

During this visit, Fernández Marugán met with some of these families who continue to fight for the access to educational services for all their children, as well as with representatives of the NGO that helps them.

Temporary Immigrant Stay Centers

Fernández Marugán has also visited the Temporary Immigrant Stay Center of Melilla. The most frequent complaints regarding these centers have to do with delays in transfers to the peninsula. With the health crisis, the problems of overcrowding increased in both centers, especially in Melilla. The Ombudsman repeatedly requested the transfer of the most vulnerable people to the peninsula. Some transfers were carried out, but in the Ombudsman’s opinion, they did not resolve the issue.

Delays in the transfer of asylum seekers held in the Temporary Immigrant Stay Centers are also of particular concern to the Ombudsman, who maintains his recommendation, first made in 2013, to issue instructions to authorize their transfer to the peninsula. Despite the
Ombudsman’s resolutions and various judicial pronouncements, complaints continue to be received denouncing the refusal of the National Police to facilitate access to the peninsula for residents with applications for international protection admitted for processing.

Fernández Marugán has again insisted that the Temporary Immigrant Stay Centers are not prepared to receive minors.

Return procedures

During his trip, Fernandez Marugán also inquired about the return procedures of the people who, after swimming to Ceuta during the third week of May, were returned to Morocco. Since 2005 the Ombudsman has been against the automatic returns of foreigners. Already in 2015, the Ombudsman recommended that whenever there is a rejection at the border, an administrative resolution should be issued, with legal and
interpreter assistance and indication of the appeals that may be presented against it. In said procedure, the foreigner should receive information on international protection and the possibility of benefiting from it should be verified, that he/she is not a minor or a possible
victim of human trafficking. These recommendations were rejected.

At the end of 2020, the Constitutional Court ruled on the figure of “rejection at the border” stating that it must comply with certain guarantees, respecting international human rights and international protection regulations to which Spain is member.

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