Melilla is a city on the North coast of Morocco which is controlled by the Spanish government. It is surrounded by three parallel border fences over 10 miles long separating Moroccan from Spanish territory. This border fence is protected both by the Spanish and Moroccan military police, because since the 1996 Barcelona Agreement the Moroccan State has been paid by the EU to protect its external borders.
In mid-March 2013 over 100 people from different West African countries attempted to climb over the fences at the same time. The majority were from Cameron and Mali, with some Gambians and Senegalese. Crossing the border fence at Melilla is one of the few options they have for entering European Union territory to claim asylum or seek work and send money home to their families.
As they attempted to climb the fence the migrants were pelted with stones and beaten with sticks by Moroccan police. Some people were also injured as they fell from the fences, the first of which is 7 meters high. After the first fence there is another (4 metres high) then yet another marking the actual border to Spain. Despite these obstacles at least 55 of the migrants successfully made it into Spanish territory. Unfortunately the majority were not so lucky.
One Cameroonian man was killed during the attempt to cross and another died later in hospital. A third Cameroonian man was found dead on the mountainside on the way back from the hospital to his camp in the forest near the fences. Apart from the deaths of these three people from Cameroon many others of various different nationalities were seriously wounded. Continue reading