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Thousand blacks storm EU border fence in Ceuta

Spanish riot police in Ceuta fought running battles with a mob of more than a thousand migrants trying force their way into EU.

Published: January 3, 2017, 9:46 am

    The black migrants used rocks and metal bars.

    Five Spanish policemen and 50 members of the Moroccan forces were injured, including one who lost an eye, according to Aljazeera. Border authorities from the central government’s representative office in Ceuta, say the mob acted in an “extremely violent and organised” way.

    They tried “to force open some of the doors in the external fence, using iron bars, wire cutters and large stones, with which they assaulted Moroccan forces and [Spanish] Guardia Civil [police] agents,” it added.

    The Spanish enclave saw the more than 1 000 migrants battling riot police as they stormed Spanish border fence in a bid to gain entry into Europe, the British daily The Express reported.

    At least a thousand African “asylum seekers” rushed the barbed wire fence protecting the tiny north African enclave Ceuta, surrounded on all sides by Morocco. Once on Spanish territory, the economic basket cases head to the deep pockets and welcoming authorities of Germany and Sweden where they don’t have to work.

    Spanish and Moroccan authorities desperately fought off the onslaught of African migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, who tried to scale the border fence as television footage showed.

    Moroccan authorities said 10 of their security personnel had been serious wounded during the fighting at the six-metre barbed wire fence early on Sunday. Footage from local TV station Faro TV showed migrants being lifted down from the border fence by cranes.

    According to the French daily Le Figaro, the Africans who were lifted from the fence on the Spanish side, were taken back to Morocco.

    The Spanish government confirmed that all the assailants had been turned back except two, who were allowed into Ceuta for medical treatment.

    Moroccan authorities said in statement: “From now on those making such attempts will be presented before the competent judicial authorities who will decree their expulsion from the kingdom (of Morocco) or heavier penalties, according the gravity of the act.”

    The Spanish enclaves in Morocco of Ceuta and Melilla are the only two land borders separating the European Union from Africa. Africans either climb over their border fences or attempt a dangerous swim along the coastline.

    There have been countless such attempts by sub-Saharan Africans living illegally in Morocco, to reach Europe. Melilla – Spain’s other North African enclave – is similarly targeted by migrants.

    In early December more than 400 sub-Saharan African migrants managed to force their way over the Ceuta border fence.

    The BBC reported that four African migrants drowned and 34 were rescued on Wednesday off the coast of Morocco when their boat sank, as they were heading to Spain or to one of the two Spanish North African enclaves.

    Libya has also become a popular departure point for African migrants, most from sub-Saharan countries, who attempt the crossing to Italy.

    An estimated 4 663 migrants died in the Mediterranean last year, while a record number of migrants – 171 299 as of November 28 – reached Italy by boat from North Africa in 2016. According to the International Organization for Migration, last year was the deadliest year ever for migrants in the Mediterranean.

    Meanwhile police have detained two Moroccans who tried to smuggle migrants into Ceuta – two hidden in a car and one in a suitcase. When police checked a car on Monday one person was found hidden in the dashboard and another in the hollowed-out back seat.

    The Africans, thought to be Guineans, received first aid as they had had little air to breathe.

    Separately, an African man was found hidden in a woman’s suitcase. The incident happened on 30 December and again the African – believed to be from Gabon – required urgent medical attention.

    The Moroccan woman was arrested in Ceuta last week by Spanish police for trying to smuggle the 19-year-old migrant from Gabon across the border with Spain curled up inside a suitcase.

    On Monday, a French national was arrested for trying to board a ferry out of Ceuta with a camper van in which 12 Algerians were found hiding, “car sick and sweating”, police told Aljazeera.

    Neither Guinea, Gabon nor Algeria suffer from conflict, but the lure of money, comfort and welcoming authorities in Europe is too great to ignore.

    Spain is often criticized for returning Africans directly to Moroccan territory. The migrants who enter its soil after clashes like these, are sent back to the other side of the fence.

    This procedure deprives the Africans concerned of submitting an application for asylum, the French daily Le Figaro noted.

    karin@praag.org

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