Migrants die in border fence crush in Ceuta, Spain

At least two African migrants are reported dead this morning in another massive attempt by hundreds of Africans to climb over the border fence separating Ceuta, Spain from Morocco. According to reports on the radio this morning, the “human avalanche” was the result of an attempt of between 500 and 600 to outnumber and overwhelm Spanish border control police by rushing over the fence all at the same time.

Fifty migrants are reported to have succeeded in their attempt to reach Spanish soil, at least 2 (police first put the figure at 6) died in the crush and 30-40 Africans were injured. Police say that none of the injuries were caused by bullet wounds.

Ever day this week the migrants have used the same tactics to cross the fence in Melilla, but this is the first time the Ceutan border fence and police have had to try to contain such a large number of simultaneous attempts to climb over the fence. The migrants mostly come from the Subsaharan countries and have spent weeks crossing Africa on foot before hiding in the nearby mountains and waiting for a chance to cross the border.

They are poor, hungry and desperate to reach Spain before the fences separating Ceuta and Melilla from Morocco are doubled in height and before the arrival of the reinforcements from the Spanish army promised by the Spanish government.

Today the Spanish and Moroccan governments are attending a (pre-arranged) summit meeting in Sevilla and one of the main points on the agenda will doubtless be what measures can be implemented to try and tighten border controls on both sides in the face of events this week.

Yesterday when questioned by the Popular Party (whose members have criticised the Moroccan authorities for failing to pick up the thousands of migrants hiding in the mountains), the Foreign Affairs Minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, told Spanish congress that the government was satisfied with the level of collaboration between the two governments.

He said government efforts were now concentrating on getting similar level of collaboration with the governments of other African states. Moratinos also underlined the opinion of the socialists that any effective attempt to stop the flow of Africans trying to cross the border to Spain and Europe must include policies aimed at reducing the poverty and misery of the nations from which the migrants are trying to escape.

Critics of the Spanish government say the increase in the number of Africans trying to get into Ceuta and Melilla is a direct result of the three-month immigration amnesty in Spain last year when illegal immigrants with a job were granted a residence and work permit. The Spanish government argues that the mass attempts are the result of tighter controls elsewhere along the border.

New immigration policy in Spain
Reform of Spanish immigration law
End of amnesty period for immigrants in Spain