Migrants on jetskis reach Spanish enclave of Ceuta in North Africa as police push back 700 Africans as they attempt to storm a 20-foot border fence
A dozen migrants arrived off the coast of the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in North Africa riding jetskis on the same day that hundreds attempted to climb over the fence along the land border.
A 28-year-old man from Guinea died before he could be rescued after falling off his jetski during the seaborne attempt.
Meanwhile, about 700 migrants who tried to scale the 20-foot high barbed-wire fences around Ceuta were repelled by Moroccan and Spanish authorities after a crossing attempt at the Tarajal post failed.
The news comes as migration experts warn that heading to Spain to break into the European Union is becoming increasingly popular, with 6,000 taking the route so far this year.
- A dozen migrants arrived in Spanish waters off Ceuta by riding in on jetskis
- About 700 migrants attempted to storm the border between Morocco and Spain
- Enclave of Ceuta has become a target of African migrants keen to reach Europe
- Spanish authorities said they worked with Moroccans to repel today’s attempt
- On Monday, more than 180 migrants stormed the border in a pre-dawn rush
The Spanish outposts of Ceuta and Melilla in northern Morocco, which have the European Union’s only land borders with Africa, are being targeted by migrants keen to break into Europe
Footage of migrants from Africa sprinting over the border from the Moroccan side while it was still dark on Monday
Spain and Morocco agreed yesterday to close the Tarajal post to freight traffic for a week because of recent migrant crossing attempts.
Pedestrian and passenger vehicles were still allowed.
Every year, thousands of sub-Saharan African migrants living illegally in Morocco try to scale the border fences surrounding Ceuta and Melilla, Spain’s other North African enclave, in a bid to enter Europe.
On January 1 more than 1,000 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa tried to scale the fence at Ceuta during a violent assault in which one officer lost an eye.
Once there, they celebrated, raising their hands in joy as they ran through the streets – with one man kneeling on the floor.
The migrants were eventually rounded up and taken to a reception centre, where they can apply for asylum in Spain.
Migration experts warned today that Africans are seeking a cheaper and easier path to Europe, with a rising number setting sail for Spain from Morocco using toy dinghies and jetskis.
The voyage from Libya across the Mediterranean Sea to Italy remains the most popular route – 95,000 migrants have set sail this year – yet numbers are down compared with 2016, while sea arrivals to Spain from Morocco have more than doubled and are now at 6,000.
Ceuta and Melilla, another Spanish territory on Morocco’s northern border, have the EU’s only land borders with Africa
Most migrants are crammed into flimsy toy boats, raising fears over their safety, said Krzysztof Borowski of the agency.
‘The use of these playthings is troubling … one large wave and they can flip over and leave people in danger,’ he said. ‘These toy boats are very hard to spot at sea for rescue operations.’
The bodies of 25 migrants have been recovered along the route this year, but the total number of deaths is likely to be far higher as most corpses are never found, Borowski added.
While the average price demanded by smugglers for the journey has doubled over the last year to about 1,000 euros (900 pounds), it is still cheaper than other routes, Frontex said.
Smugglers in Morocco offer different options to migrants – the less risky the trip, the higher the price – ranging from toy dinghies to speedboats to jetskis, with the crossing taking only 30 minutes but costing up to 3,000 euros (2,700 pounds).
Spain’s maritime rescue service, which includes ships, planes and helicopters, rescues migrants at sea and takes them to cities such as Almeria, Malaga, Tarifa, with the Spanish Red Cross on hand to offer aid from healthcare to food and water.