On the morning of Friday, July 19, hundreds of migrants attempted to cross into Spain at the border town of Melilla.
Rabat – Around 7 am on Friday, about 200 migrants tried to scale the border fence in Morocco and cross into the Spanish autonomous city of Melilla. Around 50 reached the Temporary Immigrant Stay Center (CETI) after successfully crossing over to Spanish soil.
This was the latest of an ongoing series of coordinated attempts the migrants, who hailed primarily from sub-Saharan Africa, have made to cross the series of fences dividing the two countries.
Alerts went out to local and national Spanish police warning them before the incident. Moroccan authorities stopped about 70 people before the migrants were able to climb over the fence. A further 25 individuals were apprehended in the border zone between the two countries and returned to Morocco.
Prepared with grapplers used to scale the border fences, migrants were also armed with stones and other projectiles used as weapons against authorities.
Six Spanish civil guards were injured during the incident. One migrant suffered a fractured leg.
Of the migrants who successfully crossed into Spain, approximately 50 were able to run the 100 meters stretch to reach CETI where they are temporarily protected from deportation.
Although located on the African continent, Melilla is internationally considered part of Spain. Like Ceuta about 350 kilometers to the Northwest of Melilla, the port city remained Spanish territory after Morocco claimed its independence.
The two countries are divided by a seven-mile-long fence, one of the most fortified borders on the planet. Multiple layers of chain-link fence, barbed wire, and a large ditch are arranged to keep people from crossing over to the Spanish side.
Similar to attempts made last year, hundreds of migrants approached the fence in a coordinated effort designed to overwhelm border authorities. While the majority are apprehended and prevented from crossing over, the sheer number of migrants involved in these efforts usually means some will succeed.
While Spain dedicates resources to prevent illegal migrants from entering their country, Morocco also has reasons for protecting the border fence.
Morocco’s relationship with mainland Europe has earned the country Advanced Status Partnership. This affords the country certain economic and political advantages when working with EU countries.
In order to maintain this status, the North African country contributes to efforts to keep migrants in Morocco from crossing over into the Spanish enclave.