Analysis & Opinions - The Washington Post

Morocco ‘Weaponized’ Migration to Punish Spain. That’s More Common Than You Think.

| June 01, 2021

My research identified four different approaches to creating 'weapons of mass migration'

MonkeyCage Blog

On May 17, more than 6,000 people swam, floated or scaled a pair of 32-foot-high border fences to cross from Morocco into neighboring Ceuta, an eight-square-mile Spanish-owned city on Africa's northern coast. Critically for those seeking to enter, Ceuta is inside European Union territory. According to Spanish authorities, it was the largest single-day influx of unregulated migrants in the country's history. At least 2,000 more followed the next day.

This wasn't an accident. Apparently, Morocco engineered this mass cross-border movement to punish and coerce Spain. Video footage appeared to show Moroccan border guards opening fences to the Spanish enclave and allowing people through.

Nor was this unusual. Strategically engineered migration is far more common than most people realize. At any given time, somewhere in the world, leaders inside or outside governments are likely manipulating migrants and/or refugees to pursue political, military or economic objectives. Here's what we know.

Weapons of mass migration

When governments or others "weaponize migration," they manipulate or exploit the movement of people — or threaten to do so — to achieve a strategic objective. Morocco unleashed a migrant surge on Spain in retaliation for Spain's decision to admit Brahim Ghali, leader of the Polisario Front, for medical treatment. The Polisario Front is a separatist movement battling Morocco for Western Saharan independence....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

Greenhill, Kelly."Morocco 'Weaponized' Migration to Punish Spain. That's More Common Than You Think." The Washington Post, June 1, 2021.

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