The two tiny enclaves on Morocco’s Mediterranean coast are besieged by African migrants trying to scale the six-metre barriers.
Fernando Grande-Marlaska, Spain’s new Socialist Interior Minister wants to take the razor barrier down. “I’m going to do everything possible to see that these razor wire fences at Ceuta and Melilla are removed,” he told Spanish radio station Onda Cero on Thursday.
“It’s one of my main priorities,” the judge who became minister earlier this month, said. He has commissioned a report on the ongoing challenges to Spanish border security. Spain’s new government was sworn in on 7 June.
According to Grande-Marlaska African migrants should rather be discouraged to turn back before they reach the perimeter. “It is not reasonable or acceptable to see people jumping over the fence.”
The razor wire fences were first introduced in 2005, but soon removed two years later due to bad publicity from human rights activists because Africans were injuring themselves trying to scale the fence.
The razor barriers went up again in 2013, but former Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was sharply criticised after the move by activists and senior Catholic bishops.
Spain’s new socialist leader, Pedro Sánchez, promised that he would remove the barbed fence during Spain’s general elections in 2015 and 2016, and this week he made international headlines by allowing the NGO rescue ship, the Aquarius, with 629 migrants on board to dock in Spain.
Sánchez opened the port of Valencia “to help avoid a humanitarian catastrophe” after Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini turned the vessel away.
The ship became the centre of a diplomatic row between Italy and Malta when Malta refused the incomers, arguing that it was Italy’s responsibility.