The delegation was led by the Chairman of the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee Jean-Marie Cavada (Liberals, France). After meeting with Spanish officials in Madrid on December 7, MEPs travelled to Melilla on December 8 and Ceuta on December 9, where they visited the immigrant reception centres and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). This was the second such visit by the EP's Civil Liberties Committee - the first being to the Italian island of Lampedusa in the Mediterranean on September 15/16. A visit to Malta, another site of major migratory influxes in recent months, is also on the cards.

"We want to find out about the treatment of migrants who want to get access to Ceuta and Melilla and those already there", British Green MEP Jean Lambert told Europe Information ahead of the visit. She said they were particularly keen to learn about the legal framework within which the authorities are operating, which allows them to return illegal immigrants to Morocco. While the MEPs were not due to have direct contact with the Moroccan authorities, Ms Lambert said she was confident the meetings with NGOs would provide them with a full picture of the situation. The delegation plans to draw up a report on the visit after their return, she said.

French MEP pleasantly surprised.

French Socialist MEP Martine Roure has said she was "pleasantly surprised" by her recent visit, along with the 17 other Euro-MPs, to the immigrant reception centres in Ceuta and Melilla. Unlike the camp on the Italian island of Lampedusa she visited in September which was "appalling", Ms Roure said that Ceuta and Melilla house genuine 'reception' centres. "Families are kept together, single people share small dormitories for eight people, immigrants have access to computers and Spanish classes and there is a communal television room", she said. Noting the centres have of necessity fences surrounding them, she said this would remain the case as long as the EU does not open up more channels for legal migration and harmonise the rights of migrants and asylum-seekers. The parliamentary visit, which took place from December 7 to 10, will be followed up by fact-finding missions to similar centres across Europe, notably in Malta.

Migrant worker slams Spain.


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