African migrants storm Spain-Morocco border

Spanish authorities say about 350 migrants tried to storm border fence into coastal enclave of Melilla.

Migrants have repeatedly tried to climb the 7m fence into the Spanish territories in search of a better life [EPA]

Approximately 350 migrants have tried to storm into Spanish territory from Morocco, authorities have said, in the latest wave of desperate arrivals at Europe’s southern border. 

Most of them were intercepted on the way by Moroccan security forces and a group of about 50 who got close to the fence were seen off by Spanish police backed by a helicopter.

Three of the migrants who charged towards the fence in separate locations at dawn on Wednesday made it into Spain’s coastal African enclave, Melilla, the Spanish government delegation said in a statement. 

The statement said there have now been more than 60 such attempts so far this year.

In all, about 14,000 migrants have tried to make the crossing and about 2,000 have made into Melilla.

The Spanish government has called for more help from the European Union to guard the border at Melilla and Ceuta, another Spanish territory at the northern shore of Morocco. 

Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have complained that Spain has been breaking international law by instantly deporting migrants who scramble over the fence.

One local rights group, Prodein, on October 15 filmed Spanish officers beating a migrant as he hung on the fence and then carrying him apparently unconscious back to the Moroccan side.

Spain’s conservative government said it would pass a legal amendment authorising police to expel migrants who climb over the fence, while also ordering officers to take care to avoid injuries.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has warned that the expulsions may breach international law.

Spain’s government blames human-trafficking gangs for bringing the migrants to the border and says the European Union has a duty to help it bear the heavy migratory pressure.

Spain’s North African city enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta are regularly targeted by large groups of African immigrants living illegally in Morocco to try to cross into Europe in search of a better life.

Source: AFP