Migrants Battle Police In Melilla Centre

Huge clashes have been taking place in Melilla between detained migrants being processed and the police.

The images show the riots in a reception centre for the immigrants in the Spanish enclave in Africa that have lasted for two days, leaving 20 injured and 33 arrested.

The clashes occurred at the Center for Temporary Stay of Immigrants (CETI) of the Spanish autonomous city of Melilla, located on the northwest coast of Africa, on Wednesday 26th August.

The small enclave of Melilla is one of two EU land borders with Africa together with the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, which is located almost 400 kilometres away at the Strait of Gibraltar.

Every year hundreds of immigrants try to enter Spain by jumping the fence that separates Melilla and Morocco.

Those who manage to do so have the right, according to Spanish law, to be temporarily accommodated in a Center for the Temporary Stay of Immigrants (CETI) where they are held for 60 days while their repatriation as illegal immigrants is processed.

After this period, if the return procedure cannot be completed, they are released.

The repatriation is often complicated since immigrants enter Spain undocumented, so it is not possible to determine their age or country of origin.

According to official information from the Melilla government delegation, the protests were caused by a group of immigrants who had made it across the border and requested to be transferred to other centres on the mainland.

But that process has been put on hold because COVID19 cases were detected in the centre, with the infected transferred to a hospital and the CETI base put on lockdown.

Given this measure, a group of around 200 immigrants began peaceful protests on Tuesday 25th August.

The following morning the protests continued but in a more confrontational way, and the managers of the centre requested police reinforcements.

Up to 13 patrols from the Civil Guard, the Higher Police Headquarters and the Local Police went to the CETI location where according to the Unified Police Union (SUP) on its Twitter they were involved in what was described as a ‘pitched battle’.

According to the Twitter account ‘supmelilla’ which is the Official Account of the Melilla Committee, this included attacks by immigrants where they were “throwing stones and paving slabs” and other immigrants used the fighting to attempt to escape. (https://bit.ly/2EBPk93)

The altercation left 11 civil guards, four National Police officers, five CETI guards, and one local police officer slightly injured.

In addition, 33 people were arrested and will be put on remand until their judicial situation is clarified.

The delegate of the government, Sabrina Moh, said there will be “no transfer of migrants to the peninsula as a result of violent acts”.

Currently, the CETI houses 1,300 people in a facility that officially has a capacity for just 782.

Sabrina Moh addressed the matter saying that the strong migratory phenomenon that the city has suffered for more than 50 years together with the consequences of the pandemic has led to this situation.

Despite this, Moh maintained that they are working to carry out a transfer of migrants necessary to decongest the city’s facilities.