(REUTERS) – About 70 sub-Saharan African migrants forced their way over a barbed wire barrier into Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla on Thursday.
They ran to a local immigration center where they were met by dozens of migrants cheering “victory, victory” although their legal status in Spain has yet to be determined.
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Migrants wait weeks and sometimes months at the short-stay immigrant center in the hope of being transferred to a refugee reception center in mainland Spain, said Government Delegation of Melilla spokesperson Irene Flores.
Spain has two enclaves in Morocco – Ceuta and Melilla – and both are hot spots for African migrants making their way to Europe either by climbing over the barriers around them or swimming along the coastline.
After thousands of migrants crossed into the enclave in 2014 and 2015, Spain stepped up security partly funded by Europe, and passed a controversial law enabling its border police to outright refuse migrants the opportunity to apply for asylum.
(Reporting by Amanda Calvo; Editing by Julien Toyer)