Thousands of sub-Saharan African migrants, most of whom appeared to be military-aged males, stormed the land border between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla in the early hours of Friday morning, in what was the deadliest illegal border-crossing ever recorded at Melilla.
The incident, which saw some 2,000 illegal migrants attempt to storm the barrier separating the European Union and Africa, ended in utter tragedy, leaving 23 migrants dead and 140 Moroccan officials and border guards injured, including five seriously, one of whom had to be treated at an intensive care unit at the local hospital, the Barcelona-based newspaper La Vanguardia reports
Moroccan authorities said that those who perished did so while “jostling and falling from the iron fence” separating the Spanish enclave from the North African territory, during an “assault marked by the use of very violent methods on the part of the migrants.”
Morocco has also leveled serious accusations against their North African neighbor Algeria, with a source from inside the Moroccan Embassy in Madrid saying: “The extreme violence of the assailants and the strategy of the assault denotes a high sense of organization, a planned progression and a hierarchical structure of seasoned and trained leaders with profiles of experienced militiamen in conflict zones.”
The Spanish government, for their part, noted that 133 migrants, all of whom were “men and apparently adults,” managed to successfully enter Melilla. Presently, they’re being housed in a temporary asylum center where their legal status is being considered.
Following the day’s tragic events, Spain’s socialist prime minister Pedro Sánchez, who during his tenure has allowed more than 200,000 illegal migrants enter Spanish territory, claimed that the mafia’s human traffickers were to blame.
“If anyone is responsible for everything that happened at the border, it is the mafia who traffic in human beings. Therefore, this is an attack on the territorial integrity of our country,” Sánchez said during a press conference.
In comments given exclusively to The European Conservative, Rubén Pulido, a Spanish immigration expert, political analyst, and investigative journalist had this to say about the situation in Melilla:
What has happened in Melilla is a consequence of the indolence of the Spanish government in migratory matters. They have subordinated the control of migratory flows to third countries (Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, Senegal,…) without being an active part in combating this problem.
What has happened in Melilla has been known since last year, I have demonstrated this through my investigations. If I could have known about it, so could the Spanish government. On the other hand, Morocco has not acted well, it has allowed thousands of people to reach the Spanish borders and that is when they have acted. It all seems to be just more theatrics to continue blackmailing Spain with the control of illegal immigration.
Since Pedro Sánchez has been Prime Minister, more than 200,000 immigrants have arrived in Spain illegally. Something unsustainable for our country.
Spain’s national-conservative VOX party also weighed in on social media, writing: “New massive jump in illegals at the Melilla border. The government should demand at the NATO summit the protection of the Southern Border as requested by Vox.”
“It is curious that the mafias have respected the electoral period so scrupulously, when there have been almost no arrivals,” the party added.
The deadly incident comes months after some 4,700 migrants, over the week of February 28th to March 6th, attempted to scale the six-meter-high barrier that surrounds Melilla, with nearly 1,000 making it to the European Union’s territory. One of the incidents, which saw 3,700 migrants force their way into Spanish territory, was deemed the “largest entry attempt on record.”