Hundreds of migrants stormed Spain’s border with Morocco at Ceuta early on Christmas Day. Two drowned and over 100 were intercepted, but many more reportedly reached Spanish territory.
The storming of the Spanish border in the north of Ceuta took place in the early hours of Friday morning, with the migrants attempting either to swim to Spanish-claimed territory or climb over a barbed wire fence, reports The Local.
Local authorities say that of the 200 or so migrants who tried to swim from Morocco, two were pulled dead from the waters and another 104 intercepted. Police trying to protect the border against the onslaught themselves sustained injury after coming under fire from stones and sticks thrown by the migrants.
Red Cross volunteers in Ceuta said they were treating 185 migrants who did get into Spanish territory. A dozen of that number were hospitalised for more serious injuries including an open leg fracture, deep cuts, symptoms of drowning, and hypothermia.
Those well enough to avoid hospitalisation were equipped by the Red Cross with clothing and shoes, before being taken to a temporary migrant detention centre. This follows the normal practice of not sending back those migrants who reach Spanish territory, instead allowing them to submit asylum claims and sometimes flying them to the Spanish mainland.
Morocco does not recognise Spanish sovereignty over the tiny Spanish territory of Ceuta, or the other enclave of Melilla (pictured above) which is 250 miles away. Together they form the only two land borders between Africa and the European Union, just across the Strait of Gibraltar from mainland Spain.
Would-be-migrants have regularly targeted the territories resulting in security on the border enforced by both Moroccan and Spanish forces being upgraded in 2014. Fifteen drowned during attempts to reach Ceuta last year, although the two deaths on Christmas Day are the first there this year.