Around 102 migrants managed to jump the border fence at Melilla early Tuesday morning, according to Spanish authorities.
The majority of the irregular immigrants are sub-Saharans, and were part of a larger group of around 200 people who tried to entering the Spanish North African exclave earlier at the border in a district known as Barrio Chino.
There are many structures and buildings near Melilla’s perimeter with Morocco, as well as a busy pedestrian crossing, which makes it difficult for Moroccan authorities to adequately control the area.
Tuesday’s crossing occurred at about 6.55am.
The migrants were taken to temporary holding center (CETI) where they were processed. Around 40 others were unable to make the crossing after failing to get past the obstacles at the fence, and remained trapped in an area between the border perimeters.
The European Union has been critical of Spain’s actions at the border, after a human rights group recently released a video allegedly showing a Spanish civil guard beating a migrant who was trying to scale the fence. Spanish law requires immigrants who make it across from North Africa to be processed by the Spanish authorities. However, Civil Guard officers have regularly been filmed sending them straight back through the border fence, to the Moroccan authorities.
Christmas Day attempt
Before today’s successful crossing, the latest incident involving would-be migrants saw 19 Moroccans traveling in a rickety boat arrive on Christmas Day at the Charafinas Islands, a Spanish territory off the coast of Morocco. A military helicopter carrying lawyers was dispatched to offer legal assistance to the would-be migrants.
Representatives of the National Police, Civil Guard and the central government’s delegate in Melilla were also on the scene. All but one – who claimed to be a juvenile – were returned to Morocco. The juvenile was taken to Melilla where tests were conducted to determine his age.