At least 400 people tried to enter Melilla this Friday across the border that separates the autonomous city from Morocco, the government delegation reports. According to witnesses, between 50 and 70 migrants concentrated in the Center for the Temporary Residence of Migrants (CETI) have been granted access. The majority are of Sudanese nationality and are considered potential refugees by the United Nations. Dozens of Sudanese compatriots who have been housed in the reception center since March were waiting for them outside the gates.
Entry took place around 8:30 am and after the Moroccan authorities activated a heavy deployment in the Chinatown area, a village attached to the fence where houses are separated from the fence only by a street. According to the delegation, the Moroccans have been trying to contain the arrival of the group since 6.40 a.m., when the Civil Guard was informed of the attempted entry. On the other side of the fence, the neighborhood was enveloped in a cloud of smoke and the shots of the cannons used by the Moroccan forces to stop the jump could be heard.
The migrants have mostly managed to enter through the Chinatown checkpoint, one of the Good Neighborhood checkpoints that remains closed. According to the government delegation, they broke down the doors even though the access device is designed to make it difficult for more than one person to get through a system of turnstiles and fences that impede access. It is the same step that, until 2020, produced the so-called Portage and which saw the departure of thousands of people from Melilla bringing packages of contraband to Morocco.
The Barrio Chino post is also heavily armored on the Moroccan side. Concertina spirals rise like walls around the police stations at the gates of the intersection. Despite the obstacles, some migrants managed to scale the fence and continued to infiltrate until 9:30 a.m. Some CETI residents have come to the area to later help their exhausted acquaintances to reach the site.
The alarm was raised on Thursday night. During the San Juan celebrations, the Spanish authorities had reported a massive entry attempt from Morocco. Moroccan security forces were deployed around the perimeter and at the access point. Already at dawn there was a fierce clash between Moroccan troops and the group trying to approach the fence.
Last Saturday, around 100 Moroccan agents were injured in a violent altercation with a large group gathered in a wooded area on the outskirts of Nador, where migrants regularly harassed by security forces in Morocco usually seek refuge. Faced with the threat of an attempt to enter Melilla, Moroccan forces were deployed to disperse the group, who opposed the troops with stones and sticks, according to local newspaper El Faro de Melilla.
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This is the biggest jump attempt since last March, when Melilla had a historic entry. About 900 people managed to reach the city in two days (about 500 in a single morning); More than 2,500 tried in broad daylight. The local government interpreted this invasion as a threat from Morocco amid a diplomatic crisis between Madrid and Rabat. Two weeks later, Pedro Sánchez’s executive decided to give a historic twist to Spain’s position on Western Sahara, supporting the Moroccan sovereignist proposal for autonomy for the former colony against the referendum plan for its independence. The movement restored ties with Morocco but opened a new confrontation with Algeria.