Spain to Build 30-Foot Walls Around Its African Cities to Stop Illegal Migrants

Migrants inside the Centre for Temporary Stay of Immigrants (CETI) cheers towards newly arrived African migrants which successfully breached the border from Morocco into the Spanish exclave of Ceuta on August 22, 2018 in Ceuta, Spain. This morning 100-150 mostly sub-saharan refugees crossed the barb wire fence from Morocco into …
Alexander Koerner/Getty Images

Spain’s socialist government plans to build 30-foot high walls around its North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla to stop illegal migrants.

The new border structures will dwarf the current fencing around the two Spanish cities on the North African coast, which is around 10 feet tall and topped with barbed wire.

Despite these existing barriers, both Ceuta and Melilla — just across the sea from the Spanish mainland on the borders of Morocco — have seen many migrants storm the border in recent years.

According to a report from Italian newspaper Il Giornale, the new walls will not be topped with barbed wire, in order to prevent injury of migrants who do make it to the top of the wall. But a steel cylinder will be placed at the top to make it harder for migrants to get over.

The project comes after around 300 migrants stormed the enclave of Melilla on Thursday morning. According to local security forces, the attack started at around 6 a.m. and around 50 migrants broke into the Spanish — and, by extension, European Union — territory.

The migrants, according to the authorities, were mainly from sub-Saharan Africa. They said it was just the latest incident in which migrants attacked the border this year, despite the coronavirus pandemic, with a group of around 250 making an attempt in April.

Since January an estimated 11,460 migrants have arrived in Spanish territory via various routes, with many arriving in the Canary Islands off north-west Africa via boat.

While illegal migration is down overall due to the pandemic, the islands, popular with British tourists and expats, have seen a 454 per cent increase in arrivals compared to the same period in 2019.

Experts and agencies such as the European Union border agency Frontex expect illegal migration to rise dramatically in the coming months if lockdowns are eased.

The EU’s European Asylum Support Office (EASO) has also reported that the number of new asylum applications in June was triple the number of the month before, with many of the new arrivals landing in Italian territory.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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