Hundreds of African migrants have attempted to storm border fences separating European Union territory from Africa in the Spanish exclave of Ceuta, resulting in several injuries.
The perimeter of the small city on the coast of North Africa, along with its nearby sister city of Melilla, shares the only land border of a European Union member-state with an African nation — namely Morocco — and illegal migrants have long seen it as a shortcut into the wider EU which bypasses the Mediterranean, or more circuitous routes via the Black Sea and Russia.
The Europa Press reports that some 400 migrants charged the city in the early hours of May 6th, with 150 making it past Moroccan security forces to attack its outer fences.
The Spanish authorities told the news outlet that mobile units of the Civil Guard were deployed and a majority of the would-be intruders “repelled”, with just six managing to make it onto EU soil, three of whom were immediately transferred to the local University Hospital to be treated for injuries sustained on the fences.
EU law does not allow member-states to simply detain such migrants and deposit them back on the other side of the border; they must be allowed to lodge an asylum claim, and are typically allowed to roam freely while these are processed.
— Jack Montgomery ن (@JackBMontgomery) May 10, 2017
Previous attempts to repel mass assaults on Ceuta’s fences have been less successful, with attempts on the border rising by 71 per cent in 2017 and José Luis Gómez Salinero, Colonel of the city’s Civil Guard Command, warning that his guards were having to contend with “very young and very physically fit” migrants using “hand-made knives” and willing to deploy “unusual violence” to achieve their aim.
Nearby Melilla, too, has been under sustained pressure, with around a hundred managing to break through the perimeter in May 2017 — hospitalising three guards in the process — and rampaging through the city’s streets in celebration on the other side.
Otra nueva entrada masiva de subsaharianos en Melilla, deja tres GC heridos y se ve celebrarlo, muy cívicamente por medio de la calzada pic.twitter.com/2cEpnS72U9
— Máximo Décimo (@ElHispano77) May 9, 2017
The largest assault of recent times was launched against in Ceuta in January 2017, and saw over a thousand migrants execute an “extremely violent and organised” assault on the border fences in which some fifty-five border guards were injured, with one of them reportedly losing an eye.