Nearly 500 African migrants managed to jump the border fence separating Moroccan territory from Spain’s north African exclave of Melilla early Wednesday morning, Spanish authorities said.
The successful immigrants were part of a much larger group of around 2,000 people who stormed the fence at 5.30am after coming down from Mount Gourougou, where thousands of sub-Saharans are camped out while awaiting a favorable moment to try to cross into Spanish territory.
The majority of the jumpers were held back by a large contingent of police officers from Morocco and Spain, which are cooperating to stem the continuous flow of sub-Saharan migrants into Europe.
Attempts on the border fences at Melilla and Spain’s other exclave in the north of Africa, Ceuta, have increased significantly since the beginning of this year.
The Red Cross and the army have been contributing tents and equipment to assist center workers
Spain’s Interior Minister, Jorge Fernández Díaz, said that Melilla’s temporary migrant holding center (CETI) was “stretched to the limit” after the arrival of almost 500 new people. These facilities now shelter over 2,500 immigrants from 30 countries even though there is only sufficient space for 480. The Red Cross and the army have been contributing tents and equipment to assist center workers.
Non-profit organization Prodein said Moroccan law enforcement officers beat the undocumented migrants and entered Spanish territory to “deport” them. The same sources said Spanish Civil Guard officers returned some migrants back into Morocco even though Spanish legislation forbids on-the-spot deportations once an individual has reached national soil.
The Africans who did manage to reach Melilla aimed directly for the CETI amid victorious cries of “Spain! Spain!”