Govt: Over 230 migrants enter Spain’s Melilla enclave

African migrants scale back over a border fence between Morocco and Spain's north African enclave Melilla after a failed attempt to cross into Spanish territory in this file picture taken on March 28, 2014. — Reuters pic
African migrants scale back over a border fence between Morocco and Spain's north African enclave Melilla after a failed attempt to cross into Spanish territory in this file picture taken on March 28, 2014. — Reuters pic

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MADRID, July 22 — More than 230 migrants crossed from Morocco into Spain’s Melilla enclave just before dawn today, the Spanish government’s delegation in the tiny territory said. 

In a statement, it said “a huge influx” of more than 300 migrants had tried to cross the frontier at 6.50am with 238 of them successfully scaling the fence, all of them men. 

The incident occurred two months after an unprecedented 10,000 people surged into Spain’s other North African enclave of Ceuta, exacerbating a diplomatic crisis between Madrid and Rabat.

It said the migrants had used “hooks” to scale the frontier which they managed to do despite the fact the border fence was equipped with “anti-intrusion” measures, without specifying what they were. 

It said three Guardia Civil police officers suffered “slight injuries” from the hooks used by those crossing the fence. 

The migrants were taken to a reception centre where they will be quarantined in line with anti-Covid safety procedures. 

Since mid-May, hundreds of migrants have tried to rush the Moroccan border fence into Melilla, with nearly 300 of them making it across. 

Today’s incident raised that number to more than 500. 

Spain’s two tiny enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla have Europe’s only land border with Africa, making them a magnet for migrants desperate to escape grinding poverty and hunger. 

They either swim along the coastline, climb border fences or hide in vehicles, in what can be dangerous or deadly attempts to make it to Europe. 

The Ceuta influx took place during a diplomatic crisis between Madrid and Rabat over Western Sahara, which has long pushed for independence from Morocco.

Spain had angered Morocco by allowing a separatist leader to be treated at a Spanish hospital, and the border breach was widely seen as a punitive move by Rabat. 

Although the Polisario leader left Spain on June 2, diplomatic relations have remained tense. — AFP

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