Spain spends millions on fence to seal off its Moroccan territory
SPAIN: Spain is fortifying its border fences following a surge in arrivals at its territories in north Africa, while Italy has been forced to scrap a bill giving passports to migrant children because of public hostility.
Migrants have used clubs, metal cutters and hooks to break through two six-metre-high fences in Ceuta, one of two Spanish cities that border Morocco, contributing to an 88 per cent rise this year in the total number trying to enter Spain. Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said the government would spend nearly €13.3 million (NZ$21.8m) on the new defences after almost 9000 people, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, tried to force their way into Ceuta, compared with 613 in the same period in 2016.
Zoido said there had been a surge in organised attempts to break through border fences or storm frontier posts in Ceuta, which with Melilla, another Spanish city, represents the only land border between Africa and Europe.
Despite the number of sailings to Italy from Libya slowing this summer, 100,000 migrants have made it this year after 181,000 sailed last year, causing disquiet which is being encouraged by right-wing parties as Italy prepares for elections due to be held by next May. In a survey published yesterday by La Repubblica, 46 per cent of Italians said they saw migrants as a ‘‘threat to public order and personal safety’’, up from 26 per cent in 2012.
Fearing that it did not have enough votes in parliament, the ruling centre-left Democratic Party scrapped a bill yesterday that would have granted Italian citizenship at birth to the children of migrants born in Italy if they had a parent who had lived in the country for five years. At present, they must wait until they are 18 to apply for an Italian passport. The new rules would have allowed about 800,000 minors to apply for citizenship.
Claiming victory after the bill was dropped, Matteo Salvini, the leader of the anti-migrant Northern League, said ‘‘citizenship is not a gift’’. A poll revealed that 48 per cent of Italian voters agreed with him, a rise from just 20 per cent in 2014.
When one of Italy’s most popular TV shows, Striscia La Notizia, announced this week that it had hired a half-Angolan, half-Afghan showgirl, its website was bombarded with racist comments. The 23-year-old dancer has lived in Italy since she was 6. - The Times
A satellite image shows Ceuta, an autonomous city of Spain on the north coast of Africa and favoured route to Europe for many migrants.
African migrants lie exhausted after crossing the border from Morocco to Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta.