The new fences will be equipped with facial recognition systems to better control the borders.
Rabat – The Spanish government began removing the wire fences planted along the 8.2-kilometer border of the Spanish enclave city of Ceuta with Morocco on Tuesday, December 3.
Spain also plans to update Melilla’s border fences.
The removal works will be carried out over several months, police sources told Spanish newspaper EFE.
Spain has commissioned a public company with removing the wire fences in order to replace them with more secure fences to better monitor the borders. Spanish authorities installed the wire fences in October 2005, at a time of great migratory pressure on the two Spanish enclaves, Ceuta and Melilla.
The borders of both Spanish enclaves are surrounded by a ring of two sets of meters-high barbed wire fences to prevent the entry of undocumented immigrants.
The fences have failed to prevent some irregular migration attempts, mainly from sub-Saharan immigrants. On several occasions, migrants have rushed at the fences in large groups in an attempt to cross into Spanish territory.
For years, humanitarian organizations have requested the removal of the barbed wire, considering it dangerous and ineffective in deterring undocumented migration.
Spain now seeks to improve and modernize the border crossings in Ceuta (El Tarajal) and Melilla (Beni Enzar) by setting up a facial recognition system.
With a budget of more than €32 million, the project is likely to be co-financed up to 75% by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), EFE pointed out.
Low influx of irregular immigrants to Spain
Thanks to Morocco’s efforts in tackling irregular migration, Spain has seen a significant decline in the flow of undocumented migrants in 2019.
The number of irregular migrants arriving by sea in Spain has declined to 24,031, a drop of 55% compared to the same period last year, according to the Spanish Ministry of the Interior figures from January to December 2019. During the same period in 2018, 53,004 migrants reached Spain by sea.
Meanwhile, from January to December 2019, around 1,098 boats arrived on the Spanish coast, compared to 1,959 boats, in 2018.
Through 2019, the number of illegal migrants arriving by land in Spain declined from 6,288 to 5,744, recording a drop of 8.7%.