Authorities in Melilla, Spain’s autonomous city, said Thursday that 238 African men managed to get into the Spanish enclave in North Africa after climbing over the fence separating it from Morocco.
Sub-Saharan migrants fleeing poverty or violence regularly seek to cross the 12-kilometer border at Melilla and in another Spanish enclave on the North African coast of Ceuta as a stepping stone to reach continental Europe. Migrants often attempt to cross in large groups to surprise police agents on both sides of the border.
More than 300 Sub-Saharan men tried to cross in the early hours of Thursday, said a statement by a Spanish government delegation in Melilla, a city of 84,000. It was one of the biggest attempts in recent months,
It said the migrants carried hooks to climb over the fence and that three Spanish Civil Guard officers were slightly injured while trying to stop the migrants.
The 238 people who managed to enter were taken to a migrant processing center where they must self-isolate to prevent any possible spread of the coronavirus. They usually remain there until the authorities can find out if they can be returned to their country or are eligible to live in Spain.
Migrant pressure at the Melilla border has increased in recent times, with at least five attempts to cross since May, after thousands of people – including hundreds of unaccompanied children – forced their way into Ceuta. That sparked a diplomatic row between Spain and Morocco over the future of Western Sahara, territory Rabat annexed in the 1970s. [ka/ab]