Hundreds of migrants have breached the border between the Spanish enclave of Melilla and Morocco, in the first mass crossing attempt since the two countries repaired diplomatic ties in March.
“Great Sub-Saharan Collection [Africans] The Spanish government delegation in the region said in a statement on Friday…
“every one of them [are] Men and adults it seems. The migrants arrived at the crossing at about 6:40 am local time (04:40 GMT) and the crossing took place at 8:40 am (06:40 GMT).
Melilla and Ceuta, the other small enclaves of North Africa, have the European Union’s only land border with Africa, making them a magnet for migrants.
Earlier, the delegation said in a separate statement that Morocco had deployed a “significant” number of troops in an attempt to push back the crowd from the border and “actively cooperated” with Spanish security forces.
Pictures in Spanish media showed exhausted migrants lying on a sidewalk in Melilla, some with blood and torn clothes.
In March of this year, Spain ended a year-long diplomatic crisis by backing Morocco’s plan for autonomy for Western Sahara, retreating to its decades-long neutral stance.
Then Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez visited Rabat and the two governments hailed a “new phase” in relations.
The spat began when Madrid allowed Ibrahim Ghali, the leader of the Polisario Front in Western Sahara, to be treated for COVID-19 in a Spanish hospital in April 2021.
A month later, some 10,000 migrants rushed across the Moroccan border into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta while border guards looked the other way, in what Rabat was widely seen as a punitive gesture.
Rabat calls for Western Sahara to have an independent status under Moroccan sovereignty, but the Polisario movement in Western Sahara wants a UN-supervised referendum for self-determination as agreed in the 1991 cease-fire agreement.
In the days before Morocco and Spain ended the diplomatic crisis, there were several attempts at a mass transit of migrants in Melilla, including one involving 2,500 people, the largest such attempt ever.
The restoration of Spanish relations with Morocco led to a decrease in the number of arrivals. Government figures show that the number of migrants arriving in the Canary Islands in April was 70 per cent lower than in February.