Nearly 2,000 migrants tried to enter the Spanish enclave of Melilla from Morocco on Friday morning, June 24, and 130 of them succeeded, the prefecture told Agence France-Presse (AFP). ). This attempt to massively enter one of the two Spanish enclaves located on the northern coast of Morocco is the first since the normalization of relations between Madrid and Rabat, which took place in mid-March after nearly a year of diplomatic quarrel.

The Spanish police spotted “around 6:40 a.m. a group of migrants formed by more than 2,000 people” approaching the border, said a spokesman for the prefecture. “Despite the broad security posture of the Moroccan forces, which actively collaborated and coordinated with the [Spanish] law enforcement agencies, a large group of people from sub-Saharan African countries, perfectly organized and violent, forced the entrance and broke the border control access gate” before entering Melilla, he said.

Located on the northern coast of Morocco, Melilla and the other Spanish enclave of Ceuta are the only land borders of the European Union (EU) on the African continent and migrants regularly try to cross them to reach Europe.

Clashes between migrants and police

In addition, “clashes took place overnight from Thursday to Friday between migrants and law enforcement,” Omar Naji, of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) told AFP. ) – information that could not be confirmed at this stage by the Moroccan authorities. Contacted by AFP, the Hassani hospital, located in the city of Nador, not far from Melilla, for its part confirmed having received Friday morning “several” law enforcement officers as well as migrants of sub-Saharan origin wounded.

Madrid and Rabat recently sealed their reconciliation after Madrid’s decision in March to publicly support Morocco’s autonomy plan for Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony controlled 80% by Morocco but claimed by Sahrawi separatists of the Polisario Front, supported by Algeria. This decision had put an end to a diplomatic crisis caused by the reception in Spain of the leader of the Polisario, Brahim Ghali, to be treated there for Covid-19, in April 2021.

This crisis was marked by the entry in May 2021 of more than 10,000 migrants in twenty-four hours into the enclave of Ceuta, thanks to a relaxation of border controls on the Moroccan side. Just before the reconciliation between the two countries, Melilla had been the scene, in early March, of several mass entry attempts, including the largest ever recorded in this enclave with some 2,500 migrants. Nearly 500 had succeeded.

The normalization of relations between Rabat and Madrid allowed the reopening in May of border posts between northern Morocco and Ceuta and Melilla. These two enclaves constitute the only land borders of the European Union on the African continent and are regularly the subject of attempts to enter by migrants seeking to reach Europe.