Migrant found hiding in toxic waste in Spain

Published February 23, 2021
AN image released by Spanish police shows a policeman coming across an aspiring migrant hidden in a sack of toxic waste.—AFP
AN image released by Spanish police shows a policeman coming across an aspiring migrant hidden in a sack of toxic waste.—AFP

MADRID: Police found a would-be migrant hidden in a sack of toxic waste at the port in Spain’s Melilla enclave on Morocco’s northern coast last week, police said on Monday.

The discovery was made on Friday when a person was found unconscious in a sealed plastic bag containing flue ash, a by-product of burning coal which is classed as toxic under European waste laws.

The officer who made the discovery first noticed a shape like a human leg and immediately called an ambulance after initially thinking he had come across a dead body.

But after being removed from the sack, the person regained consciousness and was saved.

Police discovered a total of 41 migrants at the port trying to illegally board boats to the Spanish mainland on Friday, hidden in lorries and other vehicles.

A number were hidden in containers full of broken glass for recycling and had suffered “multiple cuts”, police said.

Last year, more than 41,000 migrants entered Spain illegally by land and sea, about 30 percent more than in 2019.

More than half of them landed on the Canary Islands after a perilous sea crossing which last year saw the number of arrivals soar eightfold.

Migrant arrivals increased as people looked for alternative routes to reach Europe due to increased patrolling of the Mediterranean Sea.

Over the same period, around 1,500 migrants reached Melilla, one of two Spanish enclaves on the northern coast of Morocco which represent the land borders the European Union has with Africa.

Both are popular destinations for migrants seeking to enter Europe illegally, with migrants regularly trying to scale the border fence or reach them by swimming along the coast.

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2021

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