400 African mi­grants storm bor­der at Spain’s Ceuta

Big­gest group to cross into Ceuta in decade

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

MADRID:

Some 400 African mi­grants forced their way into the tiny Span­ish en­clave of Ceuta yes­ter­day, au­thor­i­ties said, the big­gest group in a decade to storm the walled city bor­der­ing Morocco in search of asy­lum. The group forced their way through two en­try points in the six-me­tre-high (20-feet) bar­rier that sur­rounds the en­clave, a lo­cal gov­ern­ment spokesman said.

Footage posted on­line by the El Faro de Ceuta news­pa­per showed dozens of mi­grants, in­clud­ing men with­out shoes and shirts, let­ting off joy­ous cries of “Spain!” as they crossed into Ceuta.

The Red Cross said it had treated 103 peo­ple for mi­nor in­juries sus­tained dur­ing the as­sault, and that 25 had been taken to hos­pi­tal. About 20 per­cent of the group who rushed the gates had not been lo­cated by au­thor­i­ties as of mid­day yes­ter­day, Spain’s In­te­rior Min­is­ter Juan Ig­na­cio Zoido said. Ceuta along with Melilla, an­other Span­ish ter­ri­tory in North Africa, have the Euro­pean Union’s only land borders with Africa.

They are favoured en­try points for African mi­grants seek­ing a bet­ter life in Europe, who get there by ei­ther climb­ing over the bor­der fence or by swim­ming along the coast.

The ob­jec­tive for mi­grants en­ter­ing Ceuta il­le­gally is to reach a tem­po­rary Span­ish res­i­dency rights cen­tre where they can, in prin­ci­ple, request asy­lum.

But Amnesty In­ter­na­tional and other rights groups have qual­i­fied Ceuta and Melilla as ex­trale­gal ter­ri­to­ries and de­nounced po­lice mis­treat­ment of mi­grants there. In 2014, 15 mi­grants drowned as dozens tried to swim to Ceuta from a nearby beach. At the time, rights groups and mi­grants said Span­ish po­lice tried to keep them from reach­ing the shore by fir­ing rub­ber bul­lets and spray­ing them with tear gas. In October a group of about 220 peo­ple man­aged to storm two en­try points into Ceuta, in­jur­ing 35 mi­grants and three se­cu­rity of­fi­cers. “You have to go back to the early 2000s to see num­bers like this,” the gov­ern­ment spokesman told AFP. Car­men Echarri, editor of El Faro de Ceuta news­pa­per, told AFP that Span­ish se­cu­rity forces had been over­run as mi­grants had struck at sev­eral dif­fer­ent parts on the bor­der bar­rier, us­ing scis­sors and cut­ting tools to get through wire fenc­ing. “Every­one was sur­prised” by the as­sault, she said. Span­ish ju­nior min­is­ter for se­cu­rity, Jose An­to­nio Ni­eto, an­nounced a visit to Ceuta, where he will brief re­porters later yes­ter­day. Some 10,800 mi­grants have ar­rived in Spain in 2016, ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Mi­gra­tion. — AFP

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