MADRID: More than 50 migrants crossed the Moroccan border into Spain’s Melilla enclave before dawn on Tuesday, the Spanish government’s delegation in the tiny territory said, reports AFP.
The incident occurred three months after an unprecedented 10,000 people surged into Spain’s other North African enclave of Ceuta, exacerbating a diplomatic crisis between Spain and Morocco.
Last month, more than 230 migrants crossed into Melilla from Morocco, in one of the largest influxes into the territory in recent years. The two enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla have Europe’s only land border with Africa, making them a magnet for migrants desperate to escape grinding poverty and hunger. The two territories are protected by fences fortified with barbed wire, video cameras and watchtowers.
In mid-May, Spain was caught off guard when more than 10,000 people swam or used small inflatable boats to cross into Ceuta territory as the Moroccan border forces looked the other way.
The influx came during a diplomatic crisis over Western Sahara, which has long pushed for independence from Morocco.
Spain had angered Morocco by allowing a separatist leader to be treated at a Spanish hospital, and the border breach was widely seen as a punitive move by Rabat.
Most of the migrants were returned to Morocco soon after they arrived in May, but at the end of July, some 2,500 remained in Ceuta, including hundreds of unaccompanied minors, according to the authorities.