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IBRU: Centre for Borders Research

Boundary news

Boundary news Headlines

Migrants storm Morocco border fence to enter European Melilla enclave

(26 February 2014)

It is reported that approximately 500 African migrants have stormed the Melilla-Morocco border fence in an attempt to reach the Spanish sovereign territory of Melilla, with an estimated 100 succeeding. The border between Morocco and Spain’s North African enclave serves as a popular crossing for illegal Sub-Saharan migrants hoping to reach the Schengen zone. Together with fellow Spanish territory Ceuta, Melilla is the European Union’s only land border with Africa.

A spokeswoman for the Spanish government’s representative in Melilla commented that the migrants were “very violent” as they used “sticks and threw rocks at Spanish and Moroccan police” as they stormed the 6 metre (20 foot) high fence. It is reported that the majority of migrants originate from Eritrea and Somalia, making the dangerous journey across the Sahara Desert in their attempt to reach European territory.

On 17th February 2014 approximately 150 migrants reached Melilla after a similar mass assault on the border fence. Reports also claim that approximately 14 migrants drowned in Moroccan waters on 6th February 2014 while attempting to enter Ceuta by sea, shortly after the land border received another challenged disturbance. Spain’s interior ministry confirmed that police fired rubber bullets as the migrants who swam into Spanish territory, but denied that this action contributed to their drowning.

In November 2013, the Spanish government added razor sharp barbed wire fencing to their existing border measures, in an attempt to curtail the heavy volume of African migrants’ illegal crossings. This received criticism from human rights activists who declared that the new measures were ‘inhumane’. 


“Border between Morocco and Melilla deemed ‘inhumane’ by human rights activists”, International Boundaries Research Unit, 22nd November 2013. Headlines.

“Migrants force way into Spain’s Melilla”, Independent Online, 24th February 2014.

“African migrants ‘storm’ Spain’s Melilla-Morocco border”, BBC News, 24th February 2014.