Migrants make new border incursion to enter Spanish city – Times of India

MADRID: Dozens of migrants tried to breach the border between Morocco and the Spanish city of Melilla on Friday, the first such incursion since Spain and Morocco mended diplomatic relations last month.
A spokesperson for the Spanish government’s office in Melilla said about 400 people attempted to enter the North African city but many were stopped by Spanish Civil Guard police and Moroccan forces on the other side of a border fence.
Those who succeeded in crossing went to a local migrant centre, where authorities were evaluating their circumstances.
The spokesperson, who could not be identified by name in keeping with government rules, said several hundred people remained gathered on the Moroccan side.
People fleeing poverty and violence sometimes make mass attempts to reach Melilla and the other Spanish territory on the North African coast, Ceuta, as a springboard to continental Europe.
Spain normally relies on Morocco to keep migrants away from the border.
At the beginning of March, more than 3,500 people tried to scale the 6-metre barrier that perimeters Melilla, and nearly 1,000 making it across, according to Spanish authorities.
Friday’s crossings were the first attempt since relations between Spain and Morocco improved in March after a year-long dispute centred on the Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony annexed by Morocco in 1976.
Morocco loosened its controls around Ceuta last year, allowing thousands of migrants to cross into Spain.
The move was viewed as retaliation for Spain’s decision to allow the leader of Western Sahara’s pro-independence movement to be treated for COVID-19 at a Spanish hospital.
Tensions between the two countries began to thaw earlier this year after Spain backed Morocco’s plan to grant more autonomy to Western Sahara, where activists are seeking full independence.

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