A thousand migrants tried unsuccessfully on Tuesday morning to enter the Spanish enclave of Melilla, on Morocco’s northern coast, days after the most massive attempt ever recorded, local authorities said.
“At around 6am, the anti-intrusion device of the Civil Guard command detected a large group of migrants made up of around a thousand migrants approaching the fence (of Melilla), in a coordinated and perfectly organised manner, before breaking up into several sub-groups,” the Melilla prefecture said in a statement.
At around 8am, “around 400 people, from one of these sub-groups, managed to reach the fence” but were stopped by Moroccan police, the prefecture said. None of these people finally managed to cross the fence and enter Melilla.
Most massive attempt
Last Wednesday, the enclave had experienced the most massive entry attempt ever recorded, according to the authorities, with about 2,500 people trying to enter. On Thursday and Friday, there were two more attempts, involving 1,200 and 1,000 people respectively. A total of 871 migrants had managed to enter Melilla on Wednesday and Thursday, compared to 1,092 for the whole of 2021.
Melilla and the other Spanish enclave of Ceuta, nearly 400km further west, are the European Union’s only land borders on the African continent and are regularly the subject of attempts by migrants to enter Europe.
In May, a migration crisis in Ceuta saw the sudden entry of more than 10,000 people, mostly Moroccans, via the sea or the dyke marking the border, as controls on the Moroccan side were relaxed.
This exceptional arrival occurred in a context of a major diplomatic quarrel between Madrid and Rabat, caused by the reception in Spain, for treatment of Covid-19, of the leader of the Sahrawi independence movement of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, sworn enemy of the Moroccan authorities.
Although tensions have since eased, they have not ended. Recalled for consultations in May, the Moroccan ambassador to Spain has still not returned to Madrid.