Paraglider crosses border between Morocco and Spain

The individual crossed into Melilla, a Spanish enclave thousands of migrants and refugees have tried to cross into.

A border fence in Melilla, Spain
A security fence separates Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla, Spain. Thousands of migrants and refugees have attempted to cross the border and enter the European Union [File: Jose Colon/AP Photo]

A person has paraglided from Morocco over a border fence into Melilla and eluded authorities, officials in the Spanish North African enclave have said.

Two witnesses saw the paraglider drifting overhead while they were driving along the ring road surrounding the enclave and alerted police at 6:15pm (17:15 GMT), the Spanish government’s representative in Melilla said in a statement on Thursday.

“Patrols immediately headed to the area, but were unable to locate the migrant,” the statement added.

Footage obtained by local newspaper El Faro appears to show a person harnessed to a paragliding canopy landing near the road that runs along two parallel border fences, which range between six metres (20 feet) and 10 metres in height and are 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) long.

The video’s authenticity has not been verified.

Melilla is one of the main entry points for migrants and refugees seeking to cross into European territory from Morocco. At least 1,155 of what the Spanish government termed undocumented migrants have crossed the land border this year until October 15, according to Spanish interior ministry data.

The heavily guarded border is one of only two borders between the European Union and an African country, the other being Ceuta, also a Spanish enclave.

It was the site of a fatal mass crossing attempt in June, when up to 2,000 people crossed the fence and were confronted by border officers.

Morocco’s state-backed National Human Rights Council said at the time that at least 23 of the people who died had likely “suffocated”.

The Spanish human rights group Caminando Fronteras said that as many as 37 people had lost their lives.

In July, the European Commission said that it would step up its work with Morocco to fight human smugglers who it described as using “new, extremely violent methods”.

Source: News Agencies