5th December 2022
Melilla migrants
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Hundreds of migrants cross into Spain’s Melilla for second day

For a second day running, hundreds of people tried to climb over the fences that separate the Spanish city of Melilla in North Africa from Morocco, authorities said on Thursday.

The Spanish government’s delegation in Melilla said 1,200 migrants attempted to scale the 6-metre barrier that perimeters the city and that 380 succeeded.

On Wednesday, an unprecedented 2,500 people tried to enter the city, resulting in 491 crossings, according to local authorities.

Spanish security forces activated an ‘anti-intrusion’ mechanism early on Thursday to confront what the government’s delegation described as ‘extreme violence’ by trespassers who ‘threw stones, used hooks and sticks’ at border guards.

Four Guardia Civil officers were treated for injuries at a hospital, Sabrina Moh, the Spanish government’s delegate in the city, told reporters.

People fleeing poverty or violence sometimes use mass border incursion attempts to reach Melilla and the other Spanish territory on the North Africa coast, Ceuta, as a springboard to continental Europe.

Moh said the ones who succeeded this week were transferred to the local migrant center, and authorities were evaluating their circumstances.

Melilla’s border security with Morocco will be reinforced with 84 Spanish National Police and Guardia Civil officers, Moh said.

Non-profit organisations  working with migrants in Melilla, including Solidary Wheels, said activists saw how Spanish authorities sent back to Morocco three migrants sitting at the top of the fence on Wednesday.

Mass border pushbacks are illegal under international refugee treaties because they deny people the opportunity to apply for asylum, although European courts have justified them in some instances.

Melilla migrants
A file photo taken in 2015 of migrants sitting atop a border fence separating Morocco from the north African Spanish enclave of Melilla. (Angela Rios / AFP)

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