IOM Statement on Recent Arrivals in Ceuta, Spain

Geneva – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has followed with concern the unprecedented arrival of an estimated 9,000 migrants in Spain’s Ceuta enclave between Monday and Wednesday (17-19 May).

At least 1,500 children between the ages of seven and fifteen were among those who crossed into Ceuta in the span of 48 hours. While many have already been returned through family reunification and tracing assistance, some 800 remain accommodated in a warehouse in Ceuta.

The Organization encourages the ongoing efforts to provide assistance to minors and maintains that best interest of the child and protection safeguards must be the guiding principles in identifying solutions for them. IOM stands ready to support Spanish authorities in providing children with the needed tailored assistance, in coordination with partners on the ground.

“Our response has to prioritize the safety of people and guarantee access to protection and other forms of assistance regardless of the reasons that forced or prompted them to move,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino.

“For migration management and the response to the needs of people on the move to be effective, collaboration and dialogue between host, transit and origin countries should be maintained.”

IOM recognizes the longstanding cooperation between Spain and Morocco and their mutual efforts to improve migration governance and encourages further efforts in this regard.

Some 26,400 people have arrived in the European Union via Mediterranean Sea routes since the beginning of 2021. While the numbers have increased compared to the same period last year, IOM believes the arrivals are manageable through better migration governance, including increased pathways for safe and dignified migration, and improved solidarity mechanisms amongst EU Member States as outlined in the currently discussed European Pact on Asylum and Migration.

For more information, please contact Safa Msehli at IOM Geneva: Tel: +41794035526, Email: