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Ceuta: Explainer: How did the migrant crisis in Spain’s city of Ceuta occur and what is going to happen now? | News

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The irregular entry of nearly 8,000 migrants from Morocco into the Spanish North African city of Ceuta on Monday and Tuesday has sparked an unprecedented migratory crisis on the border. Never before has such a large number of immigrants arrived in such a short time.

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Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, canceled a trip to Paris on Tuesday to travel to Ceuta and Spain’s other exclave city, Melilla, where 86 people managed to jump the border fence in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Of the 8,000 people who had arrived in Ceuta since Monday, either swimming or using makeshift flotation devices, nearly half have been sent back to Morocco, according to the Interior Ministry, which has not given more details about the expulsion procedures employed.

The unprecedented crisis in Ceuta has left many unanswered questions, ranging from the reasons why the Moroccan authorities let so many people breach the border – apparently a diplomatic punishment – to the way in which the thousands of people, including hundreds of minors, will now be taken care of.

What is happening in Ceuta? Rumors began to spread in Morocco on Sunday night that the local authorities were taking a lax attitude to border control. As a result, in the early hours of Monday morning hundreds of people approached the jetties that separate the North African country from the Spanish city to cross them by sea or on foot. The Moroccan gendarmerie displayed an “unusual passivity,” according to Spanish security forces.

By Tuesday afternoon, 8,000 immigrants had arrived in Ceuta, most of them Moroccan but also some sub-Saharans. Dozens continued to arrive throughout the day. Most were young men but there were also entire families and around 1,500 minors, some of whom were very young according to the Ceuta government.

What sparked the incident? The apparent motive was Spain’s decision to admit Brahim Gali, 73, into the country for medical treatment while he was suffering from Covid-19. Gali is the founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Río de Oro (Polisario Front), a liberation movement for the Sahrawi people that is outlawed in the parts of Western Sahara under Moroccan control. He was admitted under a false name to a hospital in the Spanish city of Logroño. This move angered Morocco. But compounding the situation was Donald Trump’s recognition in December of last year of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara. This prompted Rabat to exercise unprecedented pressure on Spain and the European Union so that they “abandoned the comfort zone” of the United Nations over the disputed territory, in the words of Moroccan authorities, and they followed in Trump’s footsteps.

Migrants trying to reach Ceuta by sea on Tuesday.
Migrants trying to reach Ceuta by sea on Tuesday.Mohamed Siali / EL PAÍS

What has been the Spanish government’s position? The government has responded by trying to resolve the crisis, which has sparked widespread alarm within the executive – a coalition of the Socialist Party (PSOE) and junior partner Unidas Podemos. The prime minister held a press conference on Tuesday at which he spoke about the need to defend the “territorial integrity” of Spain. He stepped up the government’s diplomatic activity and in particular focused on the European Union in search of support. Sánchez deployed the army in Ceuta on Monday and made a series of calls on Tuesday, including to Spain’s King Felipe VI and the leader of the main opposition Popular Party (PP) Pablo Casado.

What is Morocco saying? The Moroccan government has kept quiet about what has happened. The only statement from one of the country’s officials so far came from its ambassador in Spain, Karima Benyaich, who said that there “are acts that have consequences and that have to be accepted” before she was recalled for consultations by Rabat.

What will happen to the migrants? The Interior Ministry is focusing on expelling as many as possible as quickly as possible. While Morocco permitted them to cross the border headed to Ceuta, it is also accepting the migrants back into its territory. On Monday and Tuesday, around 4,000 people were sent back to the North African country, according to Interior Ministry sources.

According to news agency Efe, as well as a number of police sources who have spoken to EL PAÍS, these expulsions were, in many cases, carried out without the proper formalities and on a collective basis. The lawyers association in Ceuta has confirmed that its attorneys were only mobilized at 2pm on Tuesday, despite the fact that the expulsions began on Monday. According to sources from the association, the lawyers were called to open cases related to the expulsions in accordance with the parts of the Immigration Law that relate to irregular entry into Spain and guarantee a minimum legal coverage.

The Interior Ministry, however, has until now refused to give details about the procedures being used to expel the migrants and has only clarified that they are “refusals at the border,” a euphemism for irregular expulsions or express deportations.

What will happen to the minors? They should not be returned to Morocco under Spanish law and their interests as minors should take precedence. Interior Ministry Fernando Grande-Marlaska stated on Tuesday that no youngsters had been sent back across the border. Police sources added that if any minor has returned to Morocco, it is because they requested to be let through.

With less than 19 square kilometers of territory, how will Ceuta cope? The Ceuta government and the central government’s delegation in the North African city has set up spaces to deal with the migrants – in particular the minors but also the adults that are still in the city. The approximately 1,500 minors who crossed the breakwater were in a warehouse in Tarajal on Tuesday afternoon. All shelters in the city are completely overwhelmed. Red Cross sources said that there were no figures for the number of people who were assisted on arrival – many of the migrants were exhausted after swimming ashore – nor how many people were sent to hospital. Many sources on the ground spoke about a situation of “mayhem.”

Has this situation ever been seen before? This is the first time that such a large number of migrants has crossed the Spanish borders in an irregular manner. Not even the crisis in the Canary Islands in 2006, nor during the summer of 2018, have so many people arrived all at once. The last record was seen in November 2020, when around 2,200 people came ashore in Arguineguín, in the Canary Islands, over the space of just two days.

With reporting by Francisco Peregil, Carlos E. Cué, Laura J. Varo and Guillermo Abril.

English version by Simon Hunter.



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By 2050, a quarter of the world’s people will be African – this will shape our future | Edward Paice

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In 2022 the world’s population will pass 8 billion. It has increased by a third in just two decades. By 2050, there will be about 9.5 billion of us on the planet, according to respected demographers. This makes recent comments by Elon Musk baffling. According to him, “the low birthrate and the rapidly declining birthrate” is “one of the biggest risks to civilisation”.

Fertility rates in Europe, North America and east Asia are generally below 2.1 births per woman, the level at which populations remain stable at constant mortality rates. The trajectory in some countries is particularly arresting. The birthrate in Italy is the lowest it has ever been in the country’s history. South Korea’s fertility rate has been stuck below one birth per woman for decades despite an estimated $120bn (£90bn) being spent on initiatives aimed at raising it. Japan started the century with 128 million citizens but is on course to have only 106 million by 2050. China’s population will peak at 1.45 billion in 2030, but if it proves unable to raise its fertility rate, the world’s most populous country could end the century with fewer than 600 million inhabitants. This is the “big risk” alluded to by Musk. The trouble is, his statement seems to imply that “civilisation” does not include Africa.

The populations of more than half of Africa’s 54 nations will double – or more – by 2050, the product of sustained high fertility and improving mortality rates. The continent will then be home to at least 25% of the world’s population, compared with less than 10% in 1950. Expansion on this scale is unprecedented: whereas the population of Asia will have multiplied by a factor of four in this timeframe, Africa’s will have risen tenfold. “Chronic youthfulness”, as demographer Richard Cincotta has termed it, is the result: 40% of all Africans are children under the age of 14 and in most African countries the median age is below 20.

African mothers will have about 450 million children in the 2020s. This is projected to rise to more than 550 million in the 2040s, about 40% of all children born worldwide in that decade. Overall, low or rapidly declining birthrates remain the exception rather than the rule in most of Africa. Globally, the number of births are at their highest level ever – 140 million a year – and are unlikely to fall by much in the course of the next two to three decades.

graphic

That is some bow wave underpinning future population growth, for good or ill (or both). With continuing high fertility in east, west and central Africa, the continent will contribute 1.3 billion of the 2 billion increase in the global population between 2019 and 2050. By then, the populations of east and west Africa will each exceed that of Europe. Thereafter, Africa’s varied demography will be one of the principal determinants of whether the global population will peak in the second half of the 21st century or continue growing, a vexed and contested issue with added significance in the age of the climate crisis.

Elon Musk’s population implosion narrative is not original. It echoes that of Dr HB McKlveen, warning of the “depopulation of civilised nations” in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1895; and that of many western economists in the 1930s, John Maynard Keynes among them. More than 50 years after the publication of Paul Ehrlich’s bestselling The Population Bomb, explosion narratives also burst forth at regular intervals. To date, human adaptability and resilience have overcome demographic crises (such as the Black Death in the 14th century), and periodic alarmism. This is not intended to sound complacent or Panglossian, merely to caution that alarmist narratives are invariably touted for ideological or some other specific reasons. Beyond two or three decades, demographic futurology is fraught with pitfalls, although not nearly as hazardous as medium- and long-term economic or weather forecasting.

The omission of African demography from Musk’s pronouncement is symptomatic of colossal shortcomings in the understanding of Africa and its constituent countries in the west. African delegations are bit-part players at global gatherings like Cop26, despite the ramifications of the climate crisis for the continent (and its potential for countering deleterious effects). Western governments have been slow to cooperate with African counterparts in the battle to contain Covid-19, and have done woefully little by way of assistance. Africa remains fundamentally marginalised, including in stereotypical depictions in most western media and the imaginations of most western citizens. This lamentable state of affairs cannot – will not – endure.

Sheer weight of numbers must bring about a reimagining of African countries and their populations. This alone will impact geopolitics, global trade, technological development, the future of the world’s dominant religions, patterns of migration – almost every aspect of life. More widespread familiarity with the continent’s diverse demographic characteristics and trajectories is a good entry point to this reimagining. Oh, and it might also help to be ever-cognisant of the fact that the landmasses of China, the US, Europe, India and Japan can all fit inside this continent that will loom ever-larger in the lives of its neighbours and the world.

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MEPs keen to speed up green-transition fund for poor

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The EU should start paying out its €72bn fund for helping poor households shift to green energy in 2024, instead of 2025 as previously planned, according to a European Parliament proposal seen by Reuters. “The green transition should be feasible for everyone,” Dutch centre-right MEP Esther de Lange said. “The fund should not be used to buy Teslas …. but rather small- and medium-sizes cars for everyday families,” she added.

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Hope and pride: Zimbabweans put the country on the map in world of wine | Global development

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Like many young Zimbabweans before and since, Tinashe Nyamudoka left the economic chaos of his country to find work and a better life for himself in neighbouring South Africa.

When he left in 2008, Nyamudoka had never tasted wine. Now, he ranks among southern Africa’s top sommeliers and has his own wine label with international sales.

“We have a lot going against us as Zimbabweans, and you might think there is nothing good coming out of the country,” says the 36-year-old. “So, for me to be recognised as the [top] sommeliers in the world, being African and Zimbabwean, instils a sense of hope and pride.”

Nyamudoka began his career as a waiter in a Cape Town restaurant, where he learned about the different varieties and tastes of the wines his customers drank. He moved on to become a hotel wine waiter, working alongside some of the city’s leading sommeliers.

After studying his trade, he won the best wine steward award in a competition for luxury hotels in the Western Cape in 2013.

Tinashe Nyamudoka sniffs a glass of wine
Tinashe Nyamudoka first learned about wine tasting while working as a waiter in Cape Town. Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

His talents received international attention when, in 2017, he and three other Zimbabwean sommeliers were selected to take part in the World Blind Tasting Championship in France. The team was the first from Zimbabwe to take part in the contest, in which competitors have to use just their palate to identify the variety of grape, country of origin, appellation, vintage and producer of the wines.

The Zimbabweans did not win – coming 23rd out of 24 teams – but their story became the subject of a documentary released last year, Blind Ambition, which Nyamudoka says brought him “a sense of pride”. The team returned to the competition the next year and this time came 14th – beating the UK and the US teams.

His wine label, Kumusha – “home” or “roots” in Zimbabwe’s Shona language – has benefited from his celebrity, producing 200,000 bottles a year, up from 1,200 when it was launched four years ago. “People started embracing it,” he says.

“I conceptualised it [the label] around 2014,” he adds. “Xenophobia was hitting home [in South Africa] and we were all missing kumusha.”

The eight Kumusha wines – three reds, four whites and a rosé – are all produced in South Africa. They are sold in the US, the Netherlands, Kenya and Zimbabwe – “my exciting market”, he says. This month, he is starting to export his wines to the UK.

“I started this brand from scratch with no aid or financial handouts. It has been pure grit, passion and dedication,” he says. “I want people to understand that you can make it without prejudice.”

But Nyamudoka says he has encountered racism on his way to the top of a white-dominated industry.

“There are instances where you get to a tasting, and it is all white [people], you kind of feel out of place. At work, you cannot get the position you want because you are black. It comes in different forms. It is not obvious, it is much more subtle,” he says.

A bottle of Kumusha red wine
Kumusha’s cabernet sauvignon and cinsault, from the Slanghoek region of the Western Cape. It will be launched in the UK this month. Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

“When I was in my last days on the floor [in a restaurant], people would recognise your talent, but they would not give you your flowers [recognition] because you are not like them. It is like you must work twice as hard to prove yourself. It is always going to be there, I suppose.”

Nyamudoka, who sits on the board of the recently established Sommeliers Association of Zimbabwe, hopes that his achievements will encourage other Zimbabweans to enter the wine industry.

“There’s been an emergence of black sommeliers in the world as the industry becomes more diverse. We see the hospitality offering in Zimbabwe improving and there will be a need for sommeliers.”

A fellow sommelier, Takura Makadzange, agrees. Also from Harare, Makdazange, 38, trained in Australia, working his way up from hotel porter to restaurant owner. Now, he is back in Zimbabwe.

“I came back home because there are plenty of opportunities. There is plenty of space in hospitality. Recently there has been more of an explosion in the food and drink sector in Zimbabwe, especially speciality wines that are being made now.

“The industry has grown, the fish industry has grown and we can have access to wildlife and game meat. Promoting the local food and beverage industry is a no-brainer. We have something that no one else does. National pride is important but also we have beautiful products,” he says.

Makadzange qualified for last month’s Ubuntu Sommelier Trophy in South Africa, but had to withdraw when he caught Covid-19.

“There are instances where a less-qualified white person is trusted with looking after the wine list over any person of colour, but you have to keep moving,” he says.

“It is very unusual for a Zimbabwean to do well in this field. We want to continue that trajectory.

“I think it’s time we have more women sommeliers from Zimbabwe so, hopefully, I will train someone to get to the standard of competing.”

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