Around 2,500 sub-Saharan migrants have scaled a high fence to illegally enter the Spanish enclave of Melilla in North Africa and around 500 got through in what has been described as the city’s biggest ever break-in.
The incident took place in Melilla, one of two Spanish autonomous cities on the Morocco-Spain border, on the morning of 2nd March.
According to Spanish reports, around 2,500 sub-Saharan migrant attempted to scale the border fence, the largest influx in the city’s history, and at least 491 entered Spanish territory, according to the initial estimation of the Government Delegation.
The last similar incident took place in May 2014 when 470 sub-Saharan migrants broke into Melilla and seriously damaged the border infrastructure.
The last major break-in took place in July last year when 238 migrants entered the Spanish city on the North African coast.
In the latest incident, around 2,500 migrants scaled the fence just before 9.30am at different points of the perimeter.
Most of those who made it onto Spanish territory did so in the first 10 minutes despite attempts by the Moroccan forces to prevent the mass border jump.
Many Sub-Saharans sustained cuts and scrapes while climbing the fence as well as eye irritation caused by the Moroccan authorities using gas in an attempt to stop the border jump.
Officers of the Spanish Civil Guard and National Police managed to carry out several ‘hot returns’ of migrants who had been stopped at the fence.
According to sources, around 200 migrants “without papers” were returned through the border gates.
The Spanish authorities said the jumpers used violence during the break-in, accusing them of throwing stones at Moroccan officials and using sticks as well as fastening hooks and screws on their shoes.
Three Civil Guard officers were injured in the incident and around 20 migrants needed hospital treatment for various injuries.
Those who breached the border were taken directly to the Temporary Immigrant Stay Centre (CETI).