A mob of approximately 200 Africans assaulted the barrier marking the border between Melilla, a Spanish possession on the north African coast. At least 100 of these were able to cross into the territory controlled by Spain at approximately 5:00 A.M. local time on November 5 at a place known as Tres Forcas. The remainder were held back by Moroccan police. A sub-Saharan man died following a fall from the barrier, which consists of two 20 foot wire fences surmounted by razor wire. The victim fell on the Moroccan side of the border and was taken to a hospital in Nador, where he succumbed to his injuries. Other members of the wave of illegal immigrants attempting to cross the wire were also injured in the assault.
Local government sources in Melilla report that no members of the Spanish Civil Guard were injured in the affray when they tried to stop the scores of mostly sub-Saharan Africans from entering Spanish territory.
Elena Valenciano, the undersecretary general of Spain’s Socialist Party, has instructed her delegation in the European Parliament to introduce legislative initiatives to pull down the wire barrier at Melilla. Among the initiatives planned by the Socialists is a complaint to be presented to Commission on Human Rights in the EU parliament. The Socialists also plan to present a demand for the immediate removal of the barrier, which has long been in place during governments ruled by Socialists and liberal parties.
Socialist members of the EU parliament are calling for a visit to Melilla by a special parliamentary delegation. Valenciano said “We don’t want our country to go back to using this type of material,” while demanding that the current Popular Party government should retire the barrier.
The Spanish government recently began installing concertina, or razor wire, along the top of the barrier in some areas of the border. Abdelmalik El Barkani, Melilla’s Spanish governor, defended the use of concertina wire. “I don’t like the concertina wire, I don’t like the barrier, and I don’t like the problem of illegal immigration, but what is clear is that there is a mandate that must be carried out by the armed forces and state security forces, which is to prevent the entry of sub-Saharans.”
The problem of illegal immigration continues for Spain, which like Italy must contend with the arrival of hundreds of mostly African immigrants who cross into Europe and European-held territory, often in sub-standard and dangerously overcrowded small vessels. Spanish coast guard vessels regularly pick up small watercraft attempting to cross into Ceuta and Melilla, the two Spanish possessions on the African mainland, or the Canary Islands – which lie off the shore of Morocco. On November 1, a boat full of migrants from Morocco managed to land on a beach at Melilla but was arrested by local authorities. These immigrants were much more fortunate than others, who drown at sea or die of hypothermia.
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