Attempts by migrants to break through the border into the Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla are becoming increasingly violent, the country’s security minister has warned.
José Antonio Nieto said attempts to cross the border fence at Ceuta had become “more dangerous and violent” in recent months, with migrants not only using sticks but even iron bars and wire cutters to attack border guards.
The Interior Ministry revealed 3,144 immigrants had illegally entered Spain so far this year, half of them by crossing into Ceuta and Melilla, which have the European Union’s only land border with Africa.
In one incident last month, 496 immigrants managed to get across the border fence leaving 15 police officers injured.
However, TV station Cuatro reports Mr. Nieto said there would be no radical change in migration policy to deal with the influx. Instead, the Interior Ministry will consider using drones to patrol the border and increasing the number of officers in each of the territories.
Footage released in February showed migrants celebrating in the streets of Ceuta after breaking through the fence, some holding EU flags and others chanting “Freedom! Freedom!”.
The territory’s migrant processing centre was already struggling to cope with the heavy number of new arrivals and had to put up tents at a local sports centre to deal with the influx.
Analysts believe thousands of sub-Saharan Africans may have travelled up through Morocco in a bid to reach the Spanish exclaves. Once on EU territory, it becomes much easier for them to travel across Europe.
In January, more the 1,000 tried to storm the border in a single night. However, none successfully managed to break through.
Spanish government officials at the time reported migrants trying “to force open some of the doors in the external fence, using iron bars, wire cutters and large stones with which they assaulted Moroccan forces and (Spanish) Guardia Civil (police) agents”.