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Day 99: Ceuta to Gibraltar

Tarifa, Spain 
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With Belinda Whaley-Braithwaite on the beach at Tarifa. The foreground wreckage of small, vulnerable craft shows the risks people will take to get into Europe.
Michael Palin - SaharaThe beaches are long and full of fine white sand, and in the creamy blue-black breakers kite-flyers, surfers, swimmers and fishermen try to stay out of each other's way.

Then we come across a red and blue-striped fishing boat, no more than 20 feet long, broken and embedded in the sand. It looks quite picturesque, until you realise why it is here and who it has brought.

'Sometimes they can be up to 700 in a night, and the police may only catch 200, so the rest are in the countryside. If they're Moroccan there's an agreement, so they'll be sent back, but the people who've come from Chad or Senegal...'

'From Black Africa?'

'Black Africa, yes, there isn't the same agreement, so they're quite happy to be caught.'

Belinda, perhaps being something of an adventurer herself, talks with a sort of shocked admiration for what they go through. Boats the size of the one we're looking at may have forty bodies in them, including pregnant women who want their children to be born in Europe. Other boats never make it to the shore, leaving their charges to swim in over the reef. Unscrupulous skippers lie to them, telling them they're a hundred yards from land when in fact they're still half a mile out.
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Back on the rock of Gibraltar, the limestone pinnaccle conquered, and settled for seven centuries, by Arabs out of Africa.
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  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 99
  • Country/sea: Spain
  • Place: Ceuta
  • Book page no: 254

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