A total of 155 men of sub-Saharan origin have irregularly crossed into Ceuta in the first group assault attempt against the border perimeter for a year. At least 11 agents sustained injuries after Africans used sticks and acid against them, said Civil Guard representatives.
According to official sources, the number of migrants who tried to cross into EU territory was actually higher, but only about 150 made it past the double perimeter, which is six meters high, topped with barbed wire on a stretch of 8,4 kilometers.
At least 11 Civil Guard officers were injured in the border assault, according to national health authorities, while several migrants were injured while climbing over the barbed wire.
The rush on the fence “was conducted in a violent manner, with hand-to-hand confrontations [with officers] and using hooks, sticks and acid,” said the Civil Guard union AUGC in a statement, highlighting the shortage in border patrol resources.
“This latest organised assault newly evidences the need for technical and human reinforcements in border cities, as AUGC has been demanding for years.” Government officials also said that with these 150 newcomers, the capacity of the migrant center has been exceeded again.
The union also urged acting interior minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska to establish “a clear and unequivocal protocol of action on the borders of Ceuta and Melilla” and “to take a stand on pushback policy. It is urgent for officers to be afforded greater legal protection in the daily job they do at border crossings.”
According to the local daily El faro de Ceuta, seven of the illegals became stuck in the fence and began screaming “Spain, Spain!” while others pleaded with the Civil Guard officers to let them pass into the EU.
The Spanish Ministry of Interior announced a deadline for the removal of barbed wire from the Ceuta and Melilla border fence. According to El País, the barbed wire surrounding the fences separating Morocco from the two Spanish enclaves should be removed soon.
Acting Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska confirmed on Monday that the government plans to remove the barbed wire by 2020. “We have to have more secure borders, but without barbed wire,” he said in a television interview with Telecinco.
In January 2019, already the Spanish government announced that it would remove the fences that “put people’s lives in danger, instead of preventing assaults on the borders”, reported El Mundo.
The barbed wire will be replaced with another material, ensuring security without harming anyone. The Spanish Ministry of Interior also announced that they would raise the fences, making them as high as 10 meters.
According to El Mundo, 32,7 million euros will be made available for the improvement of the infrastructure and security systems at the crossings of Ceuta and Melilla. The plans include changing surveillance cameras and implementing a facial recognition system, among other improvements.
Official data from Spanish authorities recorded that 3 344 unaccompanied minors from the MENA region arrived in Ceuta in 2018, while 3 302 of the unaccompanied minors were boys and 42 were girls, many of whom came from the neighboring cities of Tetouan and Tangier in northern Morocco.
The migrants who manage to enter into Spain, run at full speed to the city’s temporary migrant reception center (CETI) in Ceuta, typically the first destination for illegals who jump the border fence.
The last large-scale incident in which migrants jumped the fence into Ceuta was in August 2018. On that occasion, the crossing was even more violent, with 602 migrants from a group of 850 making it into the EU. The migrants used homemade blow torches, quicklime, sticks and sharp objects to fight border officials. The violent border crossing left 132 injured, not including the 32 guards.