MADRID: Fifty-two African migrants forced their way into Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla from Morocco on Sunday by climbing over a towering border fence, Spanish authorities said.
About 100 migrants tried to storm the barbed wire fence at dawn but Spanish and Moroccan security force prevented “around half” from entering Melilla, Spain interior ministry in Melilla said in a statement.
One migrant was taken to a medical centre to treat cuts he suffered scaling the fence while four Spanish police officers sustained bruises, it added. Police arrested one of the migrants for assaulting an officer.
Video images published by local newspaper El Faro de Ceuta showed sweaters and jackets stuck to the razor wire that tops the border fence, left behind by the migrants.
The 52 who managed to enter Melilla were taken to a temporary migrant accommodation centre where they were given new clothes.
It was the biggest assault on the border between Melilla and Morocco since October 2018, when some 300 migrants stormed the fence. About 200 migrants managed to get into Melilla that time and one died of a suspected heart attack in the attempt.
Spain’s two North African enclaves, Melilla and Ceuta, have the European Union’s only land borders with Africa.
They are often used as entry points into Europe for African migrants, who either climb over their border fences or try to swim along the coast.
An official with the Spanish Interior Ministry in Melilla said four police officer and one migrant sustained light injuries as the group scaled the high fence around dawn Sunday.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity, in line with government rules.
Spain’s proximity to North Africa has made it a target for migrants trying to reach the European Union. The migrants try to get in either by land via Spain’s two North African enclaves or by crossing the Mediterranean Sea in small boats.
Spain became the leading entry point to Europe last year, with some 60,000 migrants arriving irregularly, almost all of them by sea.
Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2019