CEUTA, Spain – Spanish security forces estimate that more than 1,000 mostly sub-Saharan immigrants are congregated near Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta and may well attempt to illegally enter the coastal city, thus gaining entry into the European Union.
Police told EFE that the migrants could try a massive assault on the border fence at any time, and security personnel are on alert in the area.
The Civil Guard is using a helicopter to make daily flights along the 8.2 kilometers (5 miles) of land border separating the enclave city from Moroccan territory to detect any suspicious movement by the migrants near the double fence.
On Friday morning, a group of some 700 sub-Saharan migrants tried to assault the fence surrounding Ceuta with 33 of them managing to pull themselves up to the top of the barrier, although none was able to get over into the city itself.
The Moroccan border guards were able to disperse most of the migrants and the 33 who were perched atop the outer fence, which is six meters (about 20 feet) high, ultimately climbed back down onto the Moroccan side.
The situation alerted security forces to be alert to the possibility that the migrants – desperate to get into Europe, where they feel they have better economic prospects – could pour into Ceuta, putting significant strain on the local Temporary Immigrant Housing Center, which has space for 512 refugees but which is currently housing some 700.
Meanwhile, on the Moroccan side of the border, dissatisfied and desperate migrants – most of them from virtually destitute nations to the south – have burned and destroyed several of their own campsites, according to non-governmental organizations and are in a complicated situation.