“We’ve never seen anything like it”, Evangelical Focus
The inhabitants of Ceuta are trying to regain some normality after the very complicated days that followed the massive influx of immigrants through Tarajal beach last week.
Thousands of Moroccans have already been sent back to their country, although many still remain in the city. The main concern is now 1,000 miners still waiting to be recovered by their families or sent to other Spanish regions, who have committed to welcoming around 200.
“We couldn’t quite believe what we were seeing”, Javier Santolaria told the Spanish news site digital protestant of Ceuta, recalling what had happened a few days earlier.
“There was thousands of people roam the streets. Most of them behaved peacefully, but there were some quarrels. It completely disrupted the life of the city,” he adds.
Santolaria, originally from Ceuta, was the pastor of the evangelical church Alabanza House (House of Praise) for 20 years, located in an area of town where most residents are Muslim.
About 100 people regularly gather in the church, although attendance has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. “It touched us like everyone else, but we continued with the mission of being a church, fulfilling our calling all the while,” Santolaria explains.
The pastor says that they are used to managing migration in Ceuta, but “we have never seen anything like it. There are still parents who have not taken their children to school and businesses have remained closed until Thursday, fearing that a difficult situation will arise”.
According to Santolaria, “many know that if they are found and placed in a center, they will be deported to their country. That’s why most of them want to roam the city, hide, because they are afraid of being fired”.
“There are times when you still see a lot of children, especially young people, on the streets. There is still some unease, because we do not know what will happen to all these people who are still there, ”says the pastor.
The administration has made available a telephone number for Moroccan families wishing to locate their children and begin the reunification process.
Evangelicals are as surprised as their neighbors, but insist “not to lose the humanitarian side”. They know that behind this massive influx of people there is a political aspect that cannot be ignored, given that some miners said they were deceived.
“There were even reports that they were put on buses saying they were coming for a trip to Ceuta. That is why we do not want to lose the humanitarian side and we want to reach out and help“, points out Santolaria.
The Foundation and Development association, the social arm of the church, collects basic necessities such as clothes, shoes and hygiene articles, “to distribute them and help as much as possible those who will be there, we do not know for how long “. ”.
Helping in these circumstances is a challenge, because there are neighbors who fear a “call effect” this could lead to more arrivals. “It doesn’t stop us, but sometimes there’s also fear and unease among us, and it’s not easy to react to a situation like this,” Santolaria points out.
As a church, they have received support from some organizations and churches in Spain to carry out this work, and they are always open to receiving help.
The events of the past week have caused great concern among the inhabitants of Ceuta. The church continues to ask Christians to pray “that we can live in peace, and we can also be useful”.
Santolaria acknowledges that there is “political tension” around this situation, which has affected many citizens. “There’s a lot of irritation, so we’re asking prayer for all troubles to be reduced and that we can be light in the midst of these circumstances”.
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– Pastor in Ceuta: “We have never seen anything like it”