"Barbed wire with blades on fences in Ceuta and Melilla, is an attack on the physical integrity of immigrants: those blades cut, injure, maim and are contrary to the duty which we all have to respect the rights of African men, women and children on their journeys to European countries." So said Catholic Bishop Santiago Agrelo Martinez of Tangier in a letter sent to Spain’s Minister of the Interior, Jorge Fernández.
The letter was sent on December 10, which was World Human Rights Day. Both Ceuta and Melilla are Spanish enclaves on the coast of north Africa that are surrounded by Morocco. African immigrants assault the wire fence that surrounds the two cities on an almost daily basis, seeking to be given refugee status and hopefully a means of going to the European mainland. In recent weeks, at least one man died when he fell from the fence while trying to enter Spanish territory.
In November of this year, the Spanish government reintroduced razor wire on its barriers that separates the Spanish enclaves from Morocco. They had been eliminated in 2007 because of the severe injuries inflicted on illegal immigrants who sought to penetrate the double steel fence. Following protests by a number of human rights advocates, Spain removed the razor wire but added a third metal barrier.
Bishop Agrelo Martínez continued, "It is understood that a government must ensure adequate security of citizens in the territory of the nation. But its legitimacy fades if means that deprive others of the fundamental right to health, wellness, food, clothing, housing, medical care, social services are used."
"The blades cause only pain and death", concluded the bishop.