In continuing desperation, 60 Africans scramble over Morocco-Spain border fence

Members of the Spanish Guardia Civil look on as two members of the Moroccan Auxiliary

ABOUT 60 Africans scrambled over a border fence from Morocco into Spanish territory Monday, as a UN official urged Spain to protect migrants’ rights following evidence of police abuse.

It was the latest in a string of attempts by desperate Africans trying to reach European soil by scaling the seven-metre (23-foot), triple-layer fence into the Spanish territory of Melilla, raising pressure on Spain’s government.

A crowd of Africans charged to the fence around dawn on Monday and about 60 made it across and ran into Melilla, some heading to a police station and others to an immigration centre, Spanish government officials there said in a statement.

A video of a previous attempt filmed by a rights group on October 15 showed Spanish police beating an immigrant as he hung from the fence and then carrying him apparently unconscious back to the Moroccan side.

That was the second of two bids last week by migrants which the Spanish government described as “violent”. It said several migrants and Spanish police officers were injured in those attempts while a handful of Africans made it across.

“This worries us,” the spokeswoman in Spain for the UN High Commission for Refugees, Maria Jesus Vega, told AFP on Monday, reacting to last week’s video.

“Whatever their reasons for trying to enter, these people must be respected and these images show that some parties are not acting as they should… There are people beating those who are on the fence.”

UNHCR fears that Spanish police are denying “asylum procedures to people in need of international protection, who come to Spain’s southern border fleeing war and persecution”, Vega’s office said in a statement on Friday.

It urged Spain to take all “necessary measures to prevent this kind of situation from occurring again at Spain’s borders”.

Melilla has one of Europe’s two land borders with Africa, along with another nearby Spanish territory, Ceuta, to the west.

Spain has demanded more help from the European Union to deal with the flow of migrants who head to Melilla and Ceuta, which has swelled over recent months.

Other migrants try to sail across the 15-kilometre (nine-mile) strait from Morocco to Spain in makeshift boats and dinghies, or to smuggle themselves into the country hidden in vehicles.


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