In the early morning around 100 people of sub-Saharan origin attempted to climb the fence into Melilla, according to local government sources. The group who managed to cross arrived at the Centre for Temporary Stay of Immigrants (CETI) in Melilla, where they received new clothes and other basic goods and according to Spanish media shared their relief with other migrants. One person was taken to the hospital due to injuries from the razor wire.
A rapid deployment from the Spanish Police Guardia Civil and Moroccan security forces prevented the remaining 40 people from reaching EU soil. According to a Moroccan military official the navy also stopped three boats with 117 people from crossing to Europe. It remains unclear where they have been taken.
The Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta are the only land borders the EU shares with Africa. Since Spain recorded the highest number of arrivals of migrants and refugees in the EU in 2018 authorities have stepped up efforts to seal off Spanish borders through bilateral agreements with Morocco. An internal EU report links the cooperation to a significant decrease in arrivals in the past months. However, several NGOs have raised concern over human rights violations by Moroccan authorities and an escalating death rate of people trying to cross the western Mediterranean. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has repeatedly condemned Spanish push-backs at the border of the enclaves.
The group of people crossing the border fence to Melilla was the largest since 21 October 2019 when 209 people managed to cross.
For further information:
- ECRE, EU Report Links Drop in Arrivals to Spanish Moroccan Cooperation, 3 May 2019
- ECRE, 34 refugees die waiting more than 24 hours as ships sinks off the coast of Morocco, 5 October 2018
- ECRE, OP-ed: Cooperation with Morocco in the EU’s African Border – a laboratory of externalization, 12 January 2019
- The Washington Post, Migrant arrivals plunge in Spain after deals with Morocco, 26 April 2019
- AIDA, Country report Spain, Update 2018, March 2019
Photo: (CC) Fronterasur, February 2007