MADRID (AP) — Authorities in Spain’s autonomous city of Melilla said Thursday that 238 African men have made it into the North African Spanish enclave after climbing over fences separating it from Morocco.
Sub-Saharan migrants fleeing poverty or violence regularly attempt to force their way over the 12-kilometer-long (7.4-miles) border in Melilla and in Spain’s other enclave in the northern African coast, Ceuta, as a stepping stone to reach the European continent. The migrants often attempt to cross in large groups to surprise police agents on both sides of the fences.
In one of the largest attempts in recent months, more than 300 Sub-Saharan men tried to cross in the early hours of Thursday, according to a statement from the Spanish government’s delegation in Melilla, a city of 84,000 residents.
It said the migrants were carrying hooks to climb the fences and that three Spanish Civil Guard officers were slightly injured when they tried to stop the migrants.
The 238 who made it in were taken to a migrant processing center where they need to self-isolate to prevent the possible spread of the coronavirus.
They usually remain there until authorities can figure out if they can be returned to their countries or qualify for staying in Spain.
Migrant pressure on the Melilla border has increased recently, with at least five attempts to cross since May, after thousands of people – including hundreds of unaccompanied children – forced their way into Ceuta, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) to the west.
That sparked a diplomatic row between Spain and Morocco over the future of Western Sahara, a territory annexed by Rabat in the 1970s.
Follow AP’s global migration coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/migration