More than a thousand African migrants charged a 20-feet (6m) high barbed-wire border fence in Spain’s North African coastal enclave of Melilla on Wednesday, with many managing to scale the barrier and cross. Dozens of others were beaten back by police on both sides of the frontier, according to an Associated Press report.
Morocco’s government said 1,500 immigrants rushed the fence at five different points, ignoring warnings to stop and hurling stones at security forces.
The Spanish daily ABC reported that the charge came at 5.30 a.m. when about 400 of the sub-Saharan Africans succeeded in getting over the fence and rushed to CETI, the temporary immigration centre established by Spanish authorities, where they were greeted by singing, hugs and cheers from other Africans.
A dozen other migrants made it to the top of the fence, where they stayed for two hours before being forced down on the Moroccan side.
CETI has a capacity of 500, but now houses more than 2,000 migrants, many of them in four army tents. The Spanish interior minister recently told reporters in Madrid that CETI was already full “in an extreme situation.” The secretary of state for security, Francisco Martinez, is travelling today to Melilla to coordinate the operation at CETI.
Spain’s North African enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta are regularly targeted by migrants trying to cross Europe’s only land border with Africa. Today’s attempt on the fence was the first since May 17, when about 500 immigrants tried to jump the fence but were kept back by the Moroccan forces.
In 2013 4,235 undocumented migrants crossed into the two territories, up 49 per cent from 2,841 in 2012, although the figure was 15 per cent down on 2001 figures, the interior ministry said in a statement reported by the Local.